Wednesday January 22, 2020

Air Pollution ‘Largest Environmental Risk to Public Health in UK’: Report

Cosford said a key challenge was the commonly held view that actions to reduce air pollution run counter to economic growth and development

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China
Chinese censors have erased online debate over US-China trade negotiations as the two countries appeared to back away from a trade war.

Public Health England (PHE) has put forward a series of recommendations aimed at reducing the 28,000 to 36,000 deaths a year in Britain attributed to long-term exposure to polluted air.

One recommendation in the 250-page PHE report published here on Monday was for town and city councils to be given powers to implement no-idling zones to stop people leaving their car engines running while waiting outside schools, hospitals and care homes.

Another proposal would see low-emission or clean air zones to discourage the most highly polluting vehicles from entering populated areas, Xinhua news agency reported.

The report said that air pollution was the biggest environmental threat to health in Britain with strong evidence that air pollution causes the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, lung cancer and exacerbates asthma.

“The evidence is clear on the scale of harm from air pollution. It is the largest environmental risk to the public’s health in the UK,” warned the report.

Delhi. air pollution
A man rides his bicycle in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2018 (Representational image). VOA

“People are exposed to outdoor air pollution in the places where they live, work and spend their leisure time. Whilst there are opportunities for individuals to reduce their personal exposure, or that of their children, these are limited,” it said.

The document said that public spaces should be redesigned so people aren’t so close to highly polluting roads by making streets wider or using green hedges to screen against pollutants. There should also be more investment in clean public transport, footpaths and cycle paths.

Professor Paul Cosford, PHE’s Medical Director, said: “Action is needed at all levels to address this unacceptable, serious and avoidable source of harm to our health. We all have a role to play in helping to make sure that the air that we, and future generations, breathe is clean air.”

Also Read- Researchers Develop Novel Method to Predict Mortality in Elderly

Cosford said a key challenge was the commonly held view that actions to reduce air pollution run counter to economic growth and development.

In January, the British government announced a “Clean Air Strategy” setting out plans to meet ambitious legally binding international targets to reduce emission of the five most damaging air pollutants by 2030. It will be followed by a wider Environment Bill. (IANS)

Next Story

Air Pollution, Stress Associated with Thought Problems in Kids: Researchers

Stress likely leads to wide-ranging changes in, for example, epigenetic expression, cortisol, inflammation, and brain structure and function

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Pollution, pollutants, India, air pollution, WHO, diwali
Delhi air quality continues to be 'very poor'. VOA

Parents, please take note. Researchers have revealed that kids with elevated exposure to early life stress in the home and increased prenatal exposure to air pollution exhibited heightened symptoms of attention and thought problems.

Early life stress is common in youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who also often live in areas with greater exposure to air pollution, according to the study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

“Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a neurotoxicant common in air pollution, seems to magnify or sustain the effects of early life social and economic stress on mental health in children,” said study first author David Pagliaccio from Columbia University in the US.

“Air pollutants are common in our environment, particularly in cities, and given socioeconomic inequities and environmental injustice, children growing up in disadvantaged circumstances are more likely to experience both life stress and exposure to neurotoxic chemicals,” said senior author Amy Margolis.

Air pollution has negative effects on physical health, and recent work has begun to also show the effects on mental health. Life stress, particularly in early life, is one of the best-known contributors to mental health problems.

This new study examined the combined effects of air pollution and early life stress on school-age children.

According to the researchers data were collected from the CCCEH Mothers and Newborns longitudinal birth cohort study in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx, which includes many participants who self-identify as African American or Dominican.

Mothers wore an air monitoring backpack during the third trimester of pregnancy to measure exposure to air pollutants in their daily lives.

Stress
Stress is increasingly becoming a dreaded phenomenon. Lifetime Stock

When their children were 5 years old, mothers reported on stress in their lives, including neighbourhood quality, material hardship, intimate partner violence, perceived stress, lack of social support, and general distress levels.

Mothers then reported on their child’s psychiatric symptoms at ages 5, 7, 9 and 11.

The combined effect of air pollution and early life stress was seen across several measures of thought and attention problems/ADHD at the age 11.

The effects were also linked to PAH-DNA adducts–a dose-sensitive marker of air pollution exposure.

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The researchers said that PAH and early life stress may serve as a “double hit” on shared biological pathways connected to attention and thought problems.

Stress likely leads to wide-ranging changes in, for example, epigenetic expression, cortisol, inflammation, and brain structure and function.

The mechanism underlying the effects of PAH is still being interrogated; however, alterations in brain structure and function represent possible shared mechanistic pathways, the study said. (IANS)