Minor Air Pollution Risk to Children Revealed
Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that young children living in areas with air pollution suffer from impaired lung function. The results of the study, revealing the dangers of even low concentrations of polluting aerosols, are published in the journal Acta Pediatrica.
The team analyzed data on lung function from 177 infants, approximately six months old, living in Stockholm. The concentrations of respirable particles PM2.5 (less than 2.5 micrometers), PM10 (less than 10 micrometers) and nitrogen dioxide NO2 were calculated from birth to the time of examination. However, road traffic was found to be the main source of air pollution affecting children and differed among residences.
Children who were more exposed to air pollution showed decreases in lung function at six months of age relative to all three pollutants (PM2.5, PM10 and NO2). This affected indicators such as airway diameter and lung volume.
Pulmonary insufficiency was expressed as a decrease in forced expiratory volume (exhalation with the maximum possible effort) in the first half second by about nine milliliters and a decrease in forced lung capacity (volume of air during a full forced exhalation) by 10 milliliters with an increase in pollution levels of 5.3 micrograms PM10 per cubic meter.
Air pollution levels in Stockholm are relatively low by international standards, scientists say, and it is alarming that even these levels have a negative impact on infant lung function. This demonstrates that further action is needed to reduce pollution in urban areas.