Second study by same research team finds 1.8 million more deaths worldwide linked to urban air pollution – ScienceDaily
Nearly 2 million new cases of pediatric asthma each year could be caused by a traffic-related air pollutant, a problem particularly important in major cities around the world, according to a new study released today. The study is the first to estimate the burden of pediatric asthma cases caused by this pollutant in more than 13,000 cities from Los Angeles to Mumbai.
“Our study found that nitrogen dioxide puts children at risk for asthma and that the problem is particularly acute in urban areas,” Susan Anenberg, co-lead author of the article and professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University, mentioned. “The results suggest that clean air should be an essential part of strategies to keep children healthy.”
Anenberg and his colleagues studied ground concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, or NO2, a pollutant that comes from the exhaust emissions of vehicles, power plants and industrial sites. They also tracked new cases of asthma that developed in children from 2000 to 2019. Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation of the airways in the lungs.
Here are some of the main findings of the study:
- Of the estimated 1.85 million new pediatric asthma cases attributed to NO2 globally in 2019, two-thirds occurred in urban areas.
- The fraction of pediatric asthma cases related to NO2 in urban areas has fallen recently, possibly due to stricter air quality regulations put in place by higher-income countries like the United States.
- Despite improvements in air quality in Europe and the United States, dirty air, and in particular NO2 pollution, has increased in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
- Pediatric asthma cases related to NO2 Pollution represents a heavy public health burden for South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
A previous study by researchers at GW found that NO2 was linked to about 13% of the global pediatric asthma burden and up to 50% of asthma cases in the world’s 250 most populous cities.
Overall, the fraction of pediatric asthma cases related to NO2 rose from 20% in 2000 to 16% in 2019. This good news means that cleaner air in Europe and parts of the United States has had significant health benefits for children, especially those who live in in neighborhoods close to busy roads and industrial sites.
Much remains to be done, both in high-income countries and in parts of the world that are still struggling to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles and other sources of NO2, conclude the researchers.
A second study by Veronica Southerland at GW, Anenberg and their colleagues finds that an additional 1.8 million deaths may be linked to urban air pollution in 2019 alone. This modeling study shows that 86% of adults and children living in cities around the world are exposed to a level of fine particles that exceeds guidelines set by the World Health Organization.
âReducing transportation powered by fossil fuels can help children and adults breathe easier and can pay big health dividends, such as fewer pediatric asthma cases and excessive deaths,â Anenberg said. “At the same time, it would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, leading to a healthier climate.”
NO2 concentrations and disease burden in 13,000 cities around the world: https://blogs.gwu.edu/sanenberg/pm2-5-no2-and-ozone-data-for-13000-cities-worldwide/
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