Campaigners have called on the government to commit to tackling “dangerous” air pollution in the UK after research showed that children exposed to roadside air pollution could have their lung growth stunted by up to 14%. The study, carried out by King’s College London in 13 cities in the UK and Poland found air pollution contributes to a higher chance of heart disease, strokes, heart failure and bronchitis.
The report analysed 13 health conditions in people living in high pollution areas and compared them to the general population. It focused not just on hospital admissions and deaths but also symptoms such as chest infections.
The study found roadside air pollution stunted lung growth in children by approximately 14% in Oxford, 13% in London, 8% in Birmingham, 5% in Liverpool, 3% in Nottingham and 4% in Southampton. Researchers also said if air pollution was cut by a fifth, there would be thousands fewer cases of children with symptoms of bronchitis across those UK cities.
Roads in St Andrews with high levels of pollution include Bell St and Bridge St and, in Dundee, Seagate, Meadowside, Lochee Rd, Broughty Ferry Rd and Mains Loan.
“Air pollution makes us, and especially our children, sick from cradle to the grave, but is often invisible,” said Dr Rob Hughes, senior fellow at the Clean Air Fund. This impressive research makes this public health crisis – which affects people all across the UK – and shows the urgency with which all political parties must prioritise cleaning up our air.”
Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, called on the UK government to legally commit to the World Health Organisation’s targets to clean up the country’s “dangerous” air. It seems as if every day we see more and more evidence of the terrible health effects air pollution is having on our lungs,” Dr Woods said.
She added “It’s the most vulnerable that are hit hardest.” We know air pollution stunts our children’s still-developing lungs and those with a lung condition can find their symptoms are made far worse by poor air quality.”
The paper also found that living within 50m of a major road could increase the risk of lung cancer by up to 10%,