Children forced to breathe dangerous levels of toxic air

New Queen Mary University research has warned that UK children are breathing dangerous levels of toxic air as they make their way to and from school, as well as once they are inside their classrooms.

The academic findings, which are the result of 40 children given monitors for a 24-hour period, showcase that young children were absorbing a disproportionate amount of tiny black carbon particles, largely from diesel vehicles, during the school day with potentially devastating health consequences.

With concerns over the amount of black carbon absorbed in classrooms and playgrounds, as well as studies showing that children are exposed to more than 60 per cent of the air pollution they take in each day during the school run, Professor Jonathan Grigg has urged for a radical and urgent clean up of the nation’s air.

Grigg said: “We know that black carbon has long-term health implications for young people and this shows that they are absorbing a disproportionate amount of these toxic particles during the school day, whether that be walking along a busy road or sitting in a car breathing in diesel fumes or even in the playground or classroom.”

The findings follow separate research from Queen Mary University which found that toxic air travels through pregnant women’s lungs and lodge in their placentas. The study, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress and funded by Barts Charity, adds to existing evidence on the dangers of pollution for unborn babies and suggests that when pregnant women breathe polluted air, sooty particles are able to reach the placenta via the bloodstream.

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