This Clean Air Day (Thursday 17 June) the focus is on protecting our children’s health. Air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK and young people bear the brunt of poor air quality because of their growing bodies and the environments they spend time in. We’re joining others to passionately raise awareness and support things that will help tackle this issue.
One of the challenges to making change is that most of the harmful pollutants in the air we breathe are invisible, even when they are at dangerous concentrations. Having a good understanding of where there are particular problems is really important for our city as it plans how to keep us all safe.
To help address this, our Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Dr Christopher Chiswell, has recently been involved in installing an air quality sensor as part of project hosted by the University of Birmingham and the WM-air research programme. It provides continuous readings of the key pollutants in the air at key locations across the city. It will help us understand our local surroundings better and contribute to making forecasting and modelling more accurate for our city.
Recently Birmingham have also introduced their Clean Air Zone to try and help reduce pollution in the city centre.
Prasad Nagakumar, Paediatric Respiratory Consultant at our Children’s Hospital and Dr Satish Rao, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, explained how a number of research studies have highlighted the serious detrimental effect of pollution caused by vehicle exhaust on children’s health, particularly on the respiratory health.
“The effect of pollution, compared to adults, is significant in children as they spend more time outdoors, breathe faster and tend to take in more air for body weight.
“The effect of air pollution on children starts early. In fact, exposure of pregnant mothers to toxic vehicle fumes may result in impaired lung growth in unborn babies, in addition to increasing the risk of premature birth. Toxic fumes also affect the growing lungs and may result in irreversible lung damage.
“Vehicular pollution also increases the risk of children developing asthma and allergic diseases. Moreover, in children with asthma, exposure to traffic pollution can trigger an 2asthma attack which can be life-threatening.
High pollution levels are often seen in deprived inner-city areas and contributes to increasing 2health and life inequalities.
At BWC we welcome the Birmingham clean air zone initiative and with the support of everyone, we hope this will result in reduction in the detrimental effect of traffic pollution on children’s health. We are excited that our children will.”
You can read more information about the city’s new Clean Air Zone on our website: https://bwc.nhs.uk/clean-air-zone