Saturday October 20, 2018

Children at 800 Schools, Nurseries and Colleges in London being exposed to illegal levels of Air Pollution: Report

The study, commissioned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, suggests thousands more children and young people are at risk from toxic air than previously thought

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School children, Wikimedia
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London, Feb 25, 2017:  Tens of thousands of children at over 800 schools, nurseries and colleges in London are being exposed to illegal levels of air pollution that risk causing lifelong health problems, a media report said on Saturday.

A study identified 802 educational institutions where pupils as young as three are being exposed to levels of nitrogen dioxide that breach European Union (EU) legal limits and which the government accepts are harmful to health, the Guardian said in the report.

The study, commissioned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, suggests thousands more children and young people are at risk from toxic air than previously thought.

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Khan said the results were devastating and warned that it was the capital’s poorest children who were bearing the brunt of the air pollution crisis.

“It is an outrage that more than 800 schools, nurseries and other educational institutions are in areas breaching legal air pollution limits,” he said.

“This is an environmental challenge, a public health challenge but also – and no one talks about this – it is fundamentally an issue of social justice. If you are a poor Londoner you are more likely to suffer from illegal air.”

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Khan called for the government to introduce a clean air act and for a diesel scrappage scheme to take polluting cars off the road quickly, the Guardian report added.

The study shows 802 out of 3,261 nurseries, primary and secondary schools and higher education colleges, are within 150 metres of nitrogen dioxide pollution levels that exceed the EU legal limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

A third of state nursery schools in the capital (27), nearly 20 per cent of primaries (360) and 18 per cent of secondary schools (79) are in areas where toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide threaten children’s health.

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Of the further education colleges in the capital, 43 per cent (30) were in areas of illegally toxic levels of nitrogen dioxide.

The study, based on modelling of data from 2013, was carried out by experts from the environmental research group at King’s College London and Aether, the environmental data analysts. (IANS)

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Levels of Air Pollution Directly Linked to Oral Cancer: Study

A significant association was also observed for ozone levels below 28.69-30.97 parts per billion

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Air Pollution
Air pollution linked to high risk of oral cancer: Study. Pixabay

Higher levels of air pollution may be linked to a heightened risk of developing oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, a study has found.

While mouth cancers have been associated with smoking, drinking, human papilloma virus, and the chewing of betel quid (“paan”), the study added to this list increased levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and to lesser extent, ozone.

“This study, with a large sample size, is the first to associate oral cancer with PM2.5… These findings add to the growing evidence on the adverse effects of PM2.5 on human health,” said researchers including Shou-Jen Lan, Professor at the Asia University, in Taiwan.

Exposure to heavy metals and emissions from petrochemical plants are also thought to be implicated in the development of the disease while PM2.5 is known to be harmful to respiratory and cardiovascular health.

Previously, high air pollution has been linked to a host of health problems, from an increased risk of dementia to asthma and even changes in the structure of the heart, with recent research suggesting there is no “safe level” of air pollution.

Air Pollution
Air Pollution. pixabay

For the new study, published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, the team discovered the association by looking at air pollution data from 66 air quality monitoring stations in Taiwan, collected in 2009.

They combined this with data from the health records of more than 4,80,000 men aged 40 and over from 2012-13. In total, there were 11,617 cases of mouth cancer among the participants.

They found that men exposed to the highest levels of PM2.5s had an increased risk of mouth cancer.

Compared with men exposed to average annual PM2.5 levels of 26.74 micrograms (µg) per cubic metre (m3) of air, those exposed to concentrations of 40.37 µg/m3 or higher had 43 per cent greater odds of developing the disease.

Air Pollution.
Air pollution may also lead to changes in heart structure. Pixabay

A significant association was also observed for ozone levels below 28.69-30.97 parts per billion.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is responsible for an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide per year.

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Around 6,57,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed annually across the globe, with 3,30,000 of those patients dying, it said. (IANS)