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Air Pollution and Children –Protect our Future Generation with Improved Ambient Air Quality Guidelines

Authors: Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Carolyn Daher, Inés Valls, Claudia Garcia-Vaz (ISGlobal)

Key Points

  • Air pollution is a significant health threat to children with both short- and long-term health effects.
  • Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable and the health impacts can continue throughout their lives.
  • Negative health impacts from air pollution are not limited to the respiratory system, and include cardiovascular system, weight and to brain function and development, meaning it can impact their ability to learn.
  • Approximately 33% of European childhood asthma cases can be attributed to air pollution. If the minimum levels of some air pollutants (e.g., PM2.5, NO2, and BC) were met, Europe could prevent more than 200,000 new cases of childhood asthma each year.
  • Higher air pollution can lead to inequalities early in life and a competitive disadvantage because it affects learning and performance.
  • Urgent action is needed to reduce current ambient air pollution levels. Aligning the EU Ambient Air quality Directive with WHO air quality guidelines is an critical opportunity for child health.
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Air Pollution and Lung Cancer – Protect Our Lungs and Prevent Cancer with Improved Ambient Air Quality Guidelines

Authors: Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Michelle Turner, Carolyn Daher, Claudia GarcíaVaz, et al. (ISGlobal)

Key Points

More than 300,000 people get lung cancer each year in the EU 27.

Air-pollution is a well-established risk factor for lung cancer.

Around 10-20% of all lung cancer cases in the EU 27 are associated with air pollution.

The financial costs of lung cancer in the European Region are estimated to be over €100 billion annually, high costs that are preventable.

Stricter ambient air quality limits are needed to reduce air pollution related lung cancer

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Health equity and burden of childhood asthma - related to air pollution in Barcelona

This study estimated that up to 1230 (48%) of asthma cases in Barcelona could be attributable to air pollution each year. This study also found that in Barcelona, less socially deprived groups could be more affected by asthma-related to air pollution than those more socially deprived.

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Outdoor air pollution and the burden of childhood asthma across Europe

A significant proportion of childhood asthma cases may be attributable to outdoor air pollution and these cases could be prevented. Our estimates underline an urgent need to reduce children's exposure to air pollution

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Large-scale citizen science provides high-resolution nitrogen dioxide values and health impact while enhancing community knowledge and collective action

We present outcomes from a large-scale air quality citizen science campaign (xAire, 725 measurements) to demonstrate its positive contribution in the interplay between advances in exposure assessment and developments in policy or collective action. A broad partnership with 1,650 people from communities around 18 primary schools across Barcelona provided the capacity to obtain unprecedented high-resolution NO2 levels and an updated asthma Health Impact Assessment. It is shown that NO2 levels vary considerably with at some cases very high levels. More than a 1,000 new cases of childhood asthma could be prevented each year by lowering NO2 levels. Representativity of site selection and the minimal number of samplers for land use regression modelling are considered. Enhancement of community knowledge and attitudes towards collective response were observed and identified as key drivers for successful large-scale monitoring campaigns. The results encourage strengthening collaboration with local communities when exploring environmental health issues.

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Healthier Cities? Why Not Start with Schools?

Inés Valls, Research Technician

In Spain and other European countries, until a few decades ago, most children in towns and cities walked or cycled to their schools and used the streets for play, unaccompanied by adults. Today, their autonomy has been drastically reduced by an urban model that prioritizes private vehicle mobility. This has led to less public space to play and move around independently, and fewer children walking to school and playing in the streets, less physical activity and more exposure to the harmful emissions from motorized vehicles.

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