London's air pollution could be a ticking bomb for children's health

Children on bike
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By Doloresz Katanich with AP
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Evidence shows that air pollution leaves children at risk of lifelong breathing disorders and earlier death.


Scientists are trying to gauge the effects of London's air pollution by monitoring the health of school children's lungs.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London say children are especially vulnerable to traffic pollution. Evidence shows polluted areas worldwide lead to stunted lung growth, leaving them at risk of lifelong breathing disorders and earlier death. Pollution also triggers asthma, asthma attacks and chest infections.

A four-year-long study is underway in the UK capital to show whether attempts to improve the city's air quality, such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), are having an impact on young people's health.

London has increasingly high levels of pollution. Last year in a groundbreaking case, a 9-year-old girl became the first person to have air pollution listed as a cause of death in the UK.

Polluted environments kill 1.7 million children each year.

"Big citywide interventions are needed to improve health. The first low emission zone did reduce air pollution broadly, however, it didn't actually have an impact in children's health," says research associate at Queen Mary University of London James Scales.

A second ULEZ in the city is planned to be in place as of October 2021.

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