Air Pollution

Research Highlights

ISCHE researchers have linked air pollution during pregnancy to heart rate variability (HRV) in infancy. This is the first study to show air pollution in utero affecting HRV, a known risk factor for health issues. Chemicals found in air pollution can be deadly, and they are exceptionally toxic to the developing fetus. These findings extend the long list of health effects of low-level air pollutants.

Don't all children have a right to breathe clean air?

Research Highlights

Environmental toxins are all around us. We are constantly being exposed, often to many different kinds and levels of toxic chemicals. Studies show that there is NO SAFE LEVEL of exposure to environmental toxins and the impact of toxins on brain development is PERMANENT. Children who have higher exposures will never reach their potential cognitive ability.

The impact of toxins on the developing brain is usually subtle for an individual child, but the damage can be substantial at the population level.

Air Pollution Findings Around the Globe

91% of the world's population breathes polluted air! Yet over one-third of countries have no laws protecting outdoor air quality!

The World Health Organization (WHO) released updated air quality guidelines and targets for common air pollutants. WHO's new guidelines aim to push governments to reduce pollution levels, protect the health of children and adults, and prevent climate change.
ISCHE recognizes this as a large step towards protecting children from air pollution globally! #BreatheLife

COVID Deaths and Air Pollution

A recent study out of Detroit examining over 2,000 adults has found that those who needed ventilators and intensive care during hospitalization were more likely to live in neighbourhoods with higher levels of air pollution and lead paints.

Researchers estimated that about 15% of deaths worldwide from COVID could be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution. The proportion was around 19% in Europe, 17% in North America and 27% in East Asia.

Researchers wrote that these proportions are an estimate of "the fraction of COVID-19 deaths that could be avoided if the population were exposed to lower counterfactual air pollution levels without fossil fuel-related and other anthropogenic [caused by humans] emissions".

Air pollution doesn't just smell bad

In 2019, air pollution contributed to nearly 500,000 deaths of newborns; 90% of these deaths were in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. ISCHE scientist, Dr. Beate Ritz from UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, featured in this video, describes the impact of air pollution on a population level: "the whole population's birth weight is shifted by 10 grams to a lower weight... it means a lot at the end of the curve, those children who are already vulnerable".

Watch how babies' survival depends on clean air in the latest video by the State of Global Air.

Air Pollution Stunts Lung Development in Children

Children exposed to roadside air pollution could have their lung growth stunted by up to 14%, a study suggests. Living within 50m of a major road could increase the risk of lung cancer by up to 10%, the paper also found.

The exposure from children's commutes next to congested traffic and exhaust pipes of idling vehicles for 190 school days a year for 14 years of nursery & school is overwhelming. We can and we must reduce children's air pollution exposure.

Researchers also said if air pollution was cut by a fifth, there would be thousands fewer cases of children with symptoms of bronchitis across those UK cities. #LittleThingsMatter

Ways to Reduce and Avoid Air Pollution

Air pollution isn’t made up of one thing – it’s a cocktail of toxic gases and particles. These minuscule particles are comprised of a complex mixture of carcinogens, sulfates, nitrates, elemental carbon and toxic metals, like lead and arsenic.

The key to protecting people from the deadly impact of airborne particles is to produce less air pollution. We need to consume less, promote cleaner technologies, regulate sources of pollution and redesign our cities. If every city around the world took these steps, we would be closer to fulfilling our right to a healthy environment.

Watch the full 4-minute LTM video here:

To learn more about the harmful effects of environmental toxins:

To learn more about the harmful effects of environmental toxins, please view the full 6 minute video:

“The impact of air pollution on the world's population as a whole, birth weight is shifted
by 10 grams to a lower means a lot 
at the end of the curve, those children who are already vulnerable.”

Dr. Beate Ritz, 
ISCHE Scientist from UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Other Little Facts You Might Find Interesting...

PBDEs and PFCs are found in common household products and impact fetal brain development. Flame retardents, IQ loss, #foreverchemicals

Environmental toxic chemicals are all around us. We are constantly being exposed to different toxic chemicals. 

PBDEs are found in common household products and impact fetal brain development. 

Microplastics are the result of plastic breaking down into fine particles and often contain harmful toxins.

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