Ba­bies in prams ex­posed to much more pol­lu­tion

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

NEW RE­SEARCH in the UK has found that ba­bies in prams could be ex­posed to up to 60 per cent more pol­lu­tion than their care­givers, which could neg­a­tively af­fect their cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties and brain de­vel­op­ment. Con­ducted by re­searchers at the Global Cen­tre for Clean Air Re­search (GCARE) at the Univer­sity of Sur­rey, the new study re­viewed more than 160 ref­er­ences in lit­er­a­ture to as­sess whether ba­bies in prams have a higher ex­po­sure to traf­fic-gen­er­ated air pol­lu­tants such as par­tic­u­late mat­ter, in­clud­ing PM10 and the smaller, fine par­tic­u­lar mat­ter PM2.5, black car­bon, and ni­tro­gen ox­ides.

The re­searchers also in­ves­ti­gated dif­fer­ent types of prams based on their height, width, and whether they seated one child or two, to see if this af­fected pol­lu­tion ex­po­sure lev­els. They found that in­fants in prams breathe in more pol­luted air since they are usu­ally po­si­tioned be­tween 0.55m and 0.85m above ground level. Ve­hi­cle ex­haust pipes gen­er­ally sit within 1m above road level, mak­ing the air within the first few me­ters above road level usu­ally the most pol­luted.

This in­creases ba­bies’ po­ten­tial ex­po­sure to pol­lu­tion, which can be up to 60 per­cent more than that of adults, de­pend­ing on pol­lu­tant types. The re­searchers sug­gest that a range of ac­tions are needed to pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble in­fants, in­clud­ing ‘ac­tive’ so­lu­tions such as con­trol­ling emis­sions of road ve­hi­cles, and ‘pas­sive’ ac­tions such as plac­ing road­side hedges be­tween ve­hi­cles and pedes­tri­ans.

Tech­no­log­i­cal so­lu­tions, such as those which help to cre­ate a clean air zone around the child’s breath­ing area, could also be an ef­fec­tive solution, while car­pool­ing and us­ing pub­lic trans­porta­tion to re­duce traf­fic lev­els could sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove air qual­ity. “We know that in­fants breathe in higher amounts of air­borne par­ti­cles rel­a­tive to their lung size and body weight com­pared to adults. What we have proven here is that the height most children travel at while in a pram dou­bles the like­li­hood of neg­a­tive im­pacts from air pol­lu­tion when com­pared to an adult,” said study co-author Pro­fes­sor Prashant Ku­mar.

“When you also con­sider how vul­ner­a­ble they are be­cause of their tis­sues, im­mune sys­tems, and brain de­vel­op­ment at this early stage of their life, it is ex­tremely wor­ry­ing that they are be­ing ex­posed to these dan­ger­ous lev­els of pol­lu­tion.” “With the mul­ti­tude of ev­i­dence we set out in this re­view, it is im­por­tant that ev­ery­one across the coun­try be­gin a full and frank con­ver­sa­tion about pol­lu­tion and the im­pact it has on our most vul­ner­a­ble -- from par­ents and com­mu­nity lead­ers, to govern­ment of­fi­cials and in­dus­try.”

Ac­cord­ing to UNICEF, across the world, 17 mil­lion children who are less than a year old live in re­gions where air pol­lu­tion lev­els ex­ceed World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion-rec­om­mended guide­lines. The re­sults were pub­lished in En­vi­ron­ment In­ter­na­tional. – Re­laxnews

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