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Blog 25 April 2024

Roundup: Air quality news April 2024

From evidence of reduced attention capacities in children to a roadmap to avoid vehicular pollution, here’s your roundup of the latest air quality news.

Air pollution is a pervasive public health crisis and can exacerbate climate change. Sharing knowledge and learning is crucial to strengthening the clean air movement. Here we explore the latest news articles, research, opinions and efforts to tackle air pollution around the world.

Early life air pollution exposure linked to weaker attention spans in children

During the first two years of life, exposure to nitrogen dioxide – largely from traffic fumes – has been linked to reduced attention capacities in children ages 4-8. Published in the Environment International Journal, the Barcelona Institute for Global Health research found that boys are especially impacted as their brains mature more slowly.

Roadmap to avoid millions of early deaths from vehicular pollution

The International Council on Clean Transportation’s recent report assesses various pollution reduction scenarios to protect children from asthma and older people from air pollution-related illnesses and premature deaths. The report, Global Health Benefits of Policies to Reduce On-Road Vehicle Pollution Through 2040, is the first of its kind to provide a globally consistent evaluation, covering 186 countries and territories. It analyses 15 emissions scenarios, ranging from current policies to ambitious measures incorporating advanced technologies and zero-emission vehicles. The most ambitious scenario could potentially prevent 1.9 to 2.4 million premature deaths and 1.4 to 1.7 million cases of paediatric asthma between 2023 and 2040.

Air pollution tied to elevated risk of colorectal cancer due to DNA changes

A recent eBioMedicine study investigates the link between air pollution and colorectal cancer (CRC) risk through epigenomic analysis. Analysing data from 428,632 participants, including 2,401 with CRC, the study identifies associations between air pollution and CRC risk, particularly among men, smokers, and inactive individuals. Although not statistically significant, these findings highlight the potential impact of lifestyle changes in mitigating CRC risk.

Mapping atmospheric and economic drivers of global air pollution

New University of Illinois study looks at the global flows of air pollution and how they relate to economic activity in the global supply chain in the US. “Our study is unique in combining atmospheric transport of air pollution with supply chain analysis as it tells us where the pollution is coming from and who is ultimately responsible for it,” said lead author Sandy Dall’erba, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and director of the Center for Climate, Regional, Environmental and Trade Economics.

Revealed: Major sources of air pollution across Africa

A new report by Greenpeace has identified the fossil fuel industry as the biggest source of air pollution across Africa. The report found that Africa is home to some of the worst nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide hotspots in the world, all of which are primarily linked to thermal power plants.

China’s air pollution-related deaths predicted to rise

Despite continued improvements in particle pollution and improvements in health care, China’s air pollution-related deaths are expected to increase by between 116,000 and 181,000 a year from 2030 to 2060. A team of researchers from Chinese, German, and Canadian universities have tracked deteriorating air quality in China. They warn that without accelerated action, air pollution deaths will increase soon due to a growing ageing population.

Prenatal exposure to wildfire smoke linked to increased risk of preterm birth

A new paper investigates the effects of wildfire smoke on pregnant women. Analysing over 5 million births in California from 2007 to 2018, the study links exposure to PM2.5 from wildfire smoke with a heightened risk of preterm birth. Specifically, for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in PM2.5 concentration, there was a 3.4% increase in preterm birth risk.

See more

Cleaning our children’s air: 4 things health workers can do

Health professionals have an important role to play in protecting the youngest and most vulnerable from air pollution. Health leaders from the UK and India share their insights.

Roundup: Air quality news March 2024

From the co-benefits of decarbonisation to schools with unsafe