Impact on children’s lung development from traffic fumes ‘persists despite Low Emission Zone’, finds study

Written by Tom Freeman on 15 November 2018 in News

London's LEZ did not improve health outcomes for children, new study shows ahead of Glasgow's introduction to the idea at the end of the year

Traffic jam - PA

Air pollution from traffic fumes impacts children’s lungs for life even within a Low Emission Zone (LEZ), new research has shown.

A new report from the University of Edinburgh and Queen Mary University of London shows that the introduction of a LEZ in London was not enough to reduce the harm to children of toxic fumes.

Growing evidence on emissions from diesel vehicles shows it contains highly dangerous particles, and children’s lungs are more vulnerable, including to nitrogen dioxide.

This can mean the lungs do not develop properly and can be smaller, affecting them for life.

The research on London’s Low Emission Zone, published in Lancet Public Health, comes ahead of the introduction of a similar scheme in Glasgow.

The study found some improvements in air quality since London’s LEZ was introduced in 2008, but stressed there was no evidence of a reduction in the proportion of children with small lungs or asthma symptoms.

Professor Aziz Sheikh, co-Director of Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research at the University of Edinburgh, who was involved in the study, said: “Air pollution is one of the leading causes of death and disability in Scotland. This study provides further evidence that air pollution is affecting our children’s lung health development – with likely lifelong consequences.

“Our findings suggest that Low Emission Zones and related attempts to improve air quality will need to be ramped up in order for health benefits to be seen.”

Glasgow’s LEZ is the first of four schemes to be introduced in Scotland by the end of the decade, with Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen to follow.

Under the policy vehicles that do not comply with maximum emission levels will be excluded from entering the zone and will be issued with fixed penalty notices if they enter.

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