Reducing air pollution could dramatically improve child health

Improved air quality could reduce the number of asthma cases by about 10%, according to research carried out at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

 The modelling study (which is yet to be peer-reviewed) estimates that if the 16 cities included in the analysis reduced air pollution, more than 20,000 cases of childhood asthma, over 43,000 premature births, and over 22,000 low birthweight births could be averted annually.

At a city level, the results showed:

  • Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Manila would see the greatest reduction in childhood asthma annually, with 7,200, 5,700 and 4,000 cases averted respectively.
  • 1,700 fewer cases of asthma would occur in London, the third-highest number after Los Angeles and Mexico City, when considered in terms of cases averted per 100,000 of the population.
  • Dhaka, Manila and Lahore would see the greatest reduction in premature births annually, with 23,800, 7,000 and 4,600 cases prevented respectively. The same cities would see the largest benefits with regard to low birthweight births, with 13,500, 2,500 and 3,100 cases averted.
  • Dhaka, Bhubaneswar and Jaipur would see the greatest reductions in adverse birth outcomes when considered in relation to the number of births each year (cases averted per 100,000 births)

person holding baby's index finger

Professor Alan Dangour, director of LSHTM’s Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health said, ‘This research comes at a critical time ahead of COP26 and shows the opportunity we have of improving the health of young people while also contributing to the fight against climate change. The findings serve as compelling evidence of the benefits to the health of our children of actions to reduce carbon emissions.’

Dr. James Milner, co-investigator of Children, Cities and Climate added: ‘The health benefits to adults of reducing carbon emissions have been widely researched but there is less evidence available on the co-benefits to children and young people. This analysis addresses a critical knowledge gap in scientific research and serves as a basis for further investigation into the intersection of climate change, urban air pollution and child health.’

Photo by Aditya Romansa


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Vincent R. Valles
Vincent R. Valles
2 years ago

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