According to a new research supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), children being exposed to air pollution in London may have poor lung capacity, and a consequent risk for chronic respiratory disorders. The findings were published in The Lancet Public Health.
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London, King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh monitored the health and exposure to air pollutants over 5 years of 2164 children aged 8-9 years from 28 primary schools in London. All of the selected areas in London had previously failed to meet the current EU nitrogen dioxide limits.
The findings showed that children exposed to air pollution had substantially smaller lung volume. This was associated with annual exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other nitrogen oxides (NOx), both resulting from diesel emissions, and particulate matter (PM10). London had previously introduced the concept of Low Emission Zone (LEZ), which restricts or penalises vehicle entry into the urban areas. After the implementation of LEZ, small improvements were observed in NO2 and NOx levels but not in PM10 levels.
Professor Chris Griffiths from Queen Mary University of London said: "Despite air quality improvements in London, this study shows that diesel-dominated air pollution in cities is damaging lung development in children, putting them at risk of lung disease in adult life and early death."