Nav: Home

Infants are more exposed to harmful pollution on the way to school than on the way home

March 09, 2017

Babies in prams accompanying older siblings on the school run are twice as likely to be exposed to harmful air pollution in the morning than in the afternoon, a new study has found.

The new research, published in the journal Environmental Pollution today, highlights the high levels exposure of babies in prams to fine and ultrafine particulate matter during the morning drop-in hours of school children compared with the afternoon drop-off hours.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Surrey, also revealed that the worst places for infants to be exposed was at bus stops and traffic lights when they are waiting to cross roads.

A recent WHO report states that 570,000 children under the age of 5 die every year from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, and second-hand smoke.

Surrey researchers carried out a series of experiments using high specification air monitoring equipment located inside a pram to gauge the kind of pollutants and toxic chemicals toddlers are exposed to when accompanying older siblings during the school drop off/pick up peak times.

During the study tests, the monitoring equipment simulated the average primary school drop off/pick up, passing through a number of traffic intersections and bus stops during the drop-in (morning) and pick-up (afternoon) hours.

Primarily, the work of the research group identified that traffic intersections and bus stops emerged as pollution hotspots, with high levels of both coarse (PM2.5-10) and fine (PM2.5) particles.

The researchers also found that small-sized particles, including ultrafine particles, were higher on an average by about 47% (PM1), 31% (PM2.5) and 31% (PNC) during the morning than afternoon hours, reflecting the influence of traffic emissions during the morning peak hours.

Coarse particles (PM2.5-10) showed an opposite trend with 70% higher concentration during afternoon than morning, indicating that re-suspension was affected by the wetness of road pavement due to overnight dew in the early mornings.

The above findings clearly suggest much higher concentrations of fine and ultrafine particles during the morning peak hours, especially at the traffic intersections and bus stops, substantiating their past research findings.

Dr Prashant Kumar, lead author and Reader at the University of Surrey, said: "Previous research has shown that young children are far more susceptible to pollution than adults, due to their immature and developing systems and lower body weight. These findings provide an insight for families who walk to and from nursery/primary schools with young children. Essentially, children could be at risk of breathing in some nasty and harmful chemical species such as iron, aluminium and silica that form together the particles of various size ranges.

"One of the simplest ways to combat this is to use a barrier between the in-pram children and the exhaust emissions, especially at pollution hotspots such as traffic intersections, so parents could use pram covers if at all possible. We are also working closely with our industrial partners to develop innovative methods to clean the air around the children in their in-pram microenvironments."
-end-
This project has been carried out under the framework of the University Global Partnership Network funded project, NEST-SEAS (Next-Generation Environmental Sensing for Local To Global Scale Health Impact Assessment). The research was carried out in Guildford, Surrey, in the United Kingdom. Reference

Kumar, P., Rivas, I., Sachdeva, L., 2017. Exposure of in-pram babies to airborne particles during morning drop-in and afternoon pick-up of school children. Environmental Pollution, Online link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2017.02.021

University of Surrey

Related Pollution Articles:

The world faces an air pollution 'pandemic'
Air pollution is responsible for shortening people's lives worldwide on a scale far greater than wars and other forms of violence, parasitic and insect-born diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and smoking, according to a study published in Cardiovascular Research.
Airborne pollution associated with more severe rhinitis symptoms
A team of scientists from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a research institute supported by 'la Caixa,' has discovered that the nasal symptoms of rhinitis are more severe in people exposed to higher levels of outdoor air pollution.
Air pollution in childhood linked to schizophrenia
Children who grow up in areas with heavy air pollution have a higher risk of developing schizophrenia.
Air pollution can worsen bone health
A new study by the CHAI Project with over 3,700 people in India associates air pollution with a higher risk to develop osteoporosis.
Combatting air pollution with nature
Air pollution is composed of particles and gases that can have negative impacts on both the environment and human health.
Nature might be better than tech at reducing air pollution
Adding plants and trees to the landscapes near factories and other pollution sources could reduce air pollution by an average of 27 percent, new research suggests.
Aspirin may prevent air pollution harms
A new study is the first to report evidence that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin may lessen the adverse effects of air pollution exposure on lung function.
Is pollution linked to psychiatric disorders?
Researchers are increasingly studying the effects of environmental insults on psychiatric and neurological conditions, motivated by emerging evidence from environmental events like the record-breaking smog that choked New Delhi two years ago.
New polymer tackles PFAS pollution
toxic polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) pollution -- commonly used in non-stick and protective coatings, lubricants and aviation fire-fighting foams -- can now be removed from the environment thanks to a new low-cost, safe and environmentally friendly polymer.
A new view of wintertime air pollution
The team's unexpected finding suggests that in the US West and elsewhere, certain efforts to reduce harmful wintertime air pollution could backfire.
More Pollution News and Pollution Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.