The pollution threat

Some 13 per cent of childhood asthma cases diagnosed globally each year are linked to traffic pollution, according to a study by George Washington University and published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.

Dr Samantha Walker, director of policy and research at Asthma UK, said: “Polluted air is a major threat to public health, affecting an estimated half a million children with asthma in the UK and putting them at risk of having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.”

Commenting on evidence from a study of 2,000 children, Dr Walker said that those exposed to toxic air were more likely to develop asthma and even stunted lung growth. The study was part-funded by Asthma UK and led by Queen Mary’s University, London, Kings College London and University of Edinburgh.

The UK currently ranks 24th in the world for traffic pollution being the cause of childhood asthma.

Dr Walker has welcomed the newly introduced ultra-low emission zone in London but has commented that more must be done across the UK as a whole. She said: “The Government must commit to targets that reduce toxic air across the UK to the legal levels recommended by the World Health Organization, so that future generations can breathe clean air.”

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