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Blog 31 August 2023

Roundup: Air quality news August 2023

From London’s expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone to increasing antibiotic resistance, here’s your monthly run down of the latest air pollution news articles.

By reducing air pollution, we can tackle climate change, build fairer societies and strengthen economies. Sharing evidence and learning is crucial to supporting the clean air movement. Here, we explore the latest news, views, research and efforts to tackle air pollution.

Rising air pollution can cut life expectancy by 5 years in South Asia

The University of Chicago’s annual Air Quality Life Index reveals that fine particulate matter (PM) remains the “greatest external threat to public health”. PM2.5 comes from wildfires, vehicles and industrial emissions, leading to lung disease, heart disease, strokes and cancer. In Bangladesh, people stand to lose 6.8 years of life on average per person compared to 3.6 months in the United States.

London expands ULEZ to benefit 5 million more residents

On 29 August, London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) expanded to cover all boroughs in Greater London. To help clean London’s air, drivers of vehicles that fail to meet minimum emissions standards are required to pay a daily fee. First implemented in 2015 in central London, the ULEZ resulted in a 50% reduction in the main air pollutants and a third fewer children being admitted to hospital with air pollution-related illnesses. The expansion is supported by a £160m scrappage scheme to help drivers with non-compliant vehicles.

Poor air quality linked to increased antibiotic resistance

Exposure to air pollution may be spreading antibiotic resistance according to researchers in the UK and China. This is the first global study of its kind and draws on a dataset of antibiotic resistance patterns from 116 countries between 2000 and 2018. The findings also highlight that antibiotic resistance is particularly high in North and West Africa – regions with the highest levels of particulate matter pollution.

Increased risk of non-lung cancers in older adults

New research suggests that chronic exposure to air pollution may increase non-lung cancer risk in adults. Led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the study found that prolonged exposure to particulate air pollutants and nitrogen oxide led to an increased risk of developing colorectal and prostate cancers.

New research suggests link between toxic air and childhood obesity

Research led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health investigated the impact of air pollution on weight gain among younger children. The population-based study was conducted in collaboration with IDIAP Jordi Gol in Catalonia, Spain, and included over 46,000 children and teenagers aged between 2 and 17 who moved homes between and 2011 and 2018 in Catalonia.

Air pollution linked to 31% increase in heart disease related disability and fatalities

The number of early deaths and years of cardiovascular disability from particulate matter air pollution has increased from 2.6 million in 1990 to 3.5 million in 2019. The global study draws on data from 204 countries collected between 1990 – 2019 from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. The impact of particulate matter differed between men and women, with researchers observing that the overall deaths for men increased by 43% and women 28.2%.

Deprived communities in the UK experience higher emissions of air pollution

Air quality scientists at the University of York compared nitrogen oxides with data from the Index of Multiple Deprivation. The index factors in income, employment, education, crime, barriers to housing and services, and living environment to inform levels of deprivation. While it’s often assumed that air pollution tends to be higher in cities, this body of work reveals that deprived communities experience higher levels of air pollution regardless of whether they live in the city or more rural areas.

NASA releases first images of US air pollution with ‘groundbreaking’ new tool

From its orbit 22,000 miles above the equator, NASA’s TEMPO is the first space-based instrument designed to continuously measure air quality above North America. The instrument’s advanced spectrometer enables it to uncover pollutants concealed within sunlight reflections. “Neighborhoods and communities across the country will benefit from TEMPO’s game-changing data for decades to come,” enthused NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, speaking about the instrument’s potential.

Short-term exposure to air pollution early in pregnancy linked to gestational diabetes

A study by the University of Southern California looked at the impact of air pollution on gestational diabetes. Researchers found that “gestational diabetes risk wasn’t associated with long-term air pollution exposure but was associated with air pollution in a relatively short but critical periconceptional window, from five weeks before to five weeks after conception”.

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Health and air pollution

Air pollution is a public health emergency. Every year, millions of adults and children die prematurely.

Roundup: Air quality news July 2023

Navigation breadcrumbs Home News Roundup: Air quality news July 2023 Blog 27 July 2023 Roundup: Air quality news July 2023 From electrifying buses to a declining insect population, here’s your run down of the latest news and research from the clean air field.