We think of our children! According to King’s College London the health of the youngest is at risk due to smog. Because of the pollution of the air, in fact, children who live in busy streets are more at risk of cancer and underdevelopment of the lungs.
The research (carried out on 13 different samples in the United Kingdom and Poland, studying 13 different health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and bronchitis) reveals that living within 50 metres of a busy road may increase the risk of lung cancer by 10%, and stunt lung growth in children by 3–14%.
The worst data is recorded in Oxford, where the road limits lung growth in children by around 14%, London follows with 13% (about three million people are estimated to live near a busy road), 8% in Birmingham, 5% in Bristol, 5% in Liverpool, 3% in Nottingham and 4% in Southampton. The research suggests that reducing air pollution by one fifth could see the lung cancer cases go down by 7.6% in London, 6.4% in Birmingham, 5.9% in Bristol, 5.3% in Liverpool, 5.6% in Manchester, 6.7% in Nottingham, 6% in Oxford and 5.9% in Southampton.
The WHO (World Health Organization) limit is that small particles known as PM2.5 should not exceed an annual mean of 10μg/m3 (10 micrograms per cubic metre), or a 24-hour mean of 25 μg/m3. But Existing UK legal limits for PM2.5 are more than double the WHO limit.
No political party has committed to bringing the limit to within WHO guidelines by 2030, so the coalition of 15 health and environment NGOs who released the report, including ClientEarth and the British Lung Foundation, are calling for legal levels of particulate pollution to be reduced to limits by 2030.
Heather Walton, senior lecturer in environmental health at King’s College London, said: «Previous calculations have concentrated on deaths, life expectancy and broad types of hospital admissions. Our report includes symptoms that affect a larger number of people such as chest infections [acute bronchitis] in children and effects on specific groups of people such as asthmatics».
Andrea Lee, clean air campaigns and policy manager at ClientEarth, adds: «Toxic air puts an unfair burden on people’s lives. The good news is that solutions are available. The UK’s first clean air zone in London is already having an impact. But much more needs to be done to help people across the country move to cleaner forms of transport».