Diesel pollution stunts children’s lung growth, major study shows

(The Guardian, 14 Nov 2018) Research carried out in London also shows charging polluting trucks had no effect on health.

Pollution from diesel vehicles is stunting the growth of children’s lungs, leaving them damaged for life, a major study has found.

The research, conducted with more than 2,000 school children in London, is the first such study in a city where diesel pollution is a significant factor, and has implications for cities around the world. It also showed that charges to deter polluting trucks from entering the city did reduce air pollution a little but did not reduce the harm to children’s lungs.

The World Health Organization classifies air pollution, which causes 7 million early deaths every year, a global public health emergency. Ninety per cent of children around the world breathe unsafe air. Growing children are especially vulnerable to toxic air and previous research has linked it to low birth weights, cot deaths, obesity and mental health problems.

Most urban areas in the UK have illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, and the government has suffered three legal defeats over the inadequacy of its plans. The latest government action plan, which environmental lawyers called “pitiful”, revealed air pollution was even worse than previously feared.

“We are raising a generation of children with stunted lung capacity,” said Prof Chris Griffiths, at Queen Mary University of London, who led the research team. “This reflects a car industry that has deceived the consumer and central government, which continues to fail to act decisively to ensure towns and cities cut traffic. The public very much wants better air quality, and they are right.”

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The Guardian, 14 Nov 2018: Diesel pollution stunts children’s lung growth, major study shows