Wednesday 10 June 2009

Particulate pollution and children’s health – the latest car dependency scandal

The government’s website on air pollution this morning states:

Summary of Latest Air Pollution Levels Everywhere in the UK is currently LOW

Funny, that. Because

Children may be at greater risk from the microscopic particles in traffic pollution than was previously thought. Early findings from a major study in London seen by the BBC show that the lung capacity of 8- and 9-year-olds is 5% lower than the national average.

And 7% of the children - surveyed in the Tower Hamlets area - have lung function reduced to a level internationally regarded as hazardous.

The London study is being led by Professor Jonathan Grigg. He works out of the Centre for Paediatrics at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Researchers at Lancaster University warn that levels of particulates are often higher than shown by official monitoring devices.

Analysing the particulates collected on roadside leaves, the research shows that the pollution can be most intense at the height of many children. Britain already faces penalties from the European Union for multiple breaches of standards for particulate pollution.

Professor Grigg told BBC News: "Our findings in the East End of London are that children living here have slightly lower lung function than what we'd expect from the national average.

"Now, if that's due to air pollution, as we suspect, they're going to be at increased risk from a range of respiratory disorders such as asthma and infection, and may be at risk in adulthood."