Child Asthma Cases

Vehicles Emissions Linked to Two Million Child Asthma Cases Every Year

Child Care

Asthma is a common lung disease that affects millions of people. It is a chronic condition that typically starts during a person’s childhood years. Children are most susceptible to bronchial asthma. 

In a new study by George Washington University, researchers discovered that around 1.85 million new cases of asthma involving children every year are linked to vehicle emissions. They collected data and analysed NO2 or nitrogen dioxide concentrations and new cases of paediatric asthma from the years 2000 to 2019. The study was conducted in over 13,000 locations. Around two-thirds of the cases happened in urban areas.

Study co-lead author Susan Anenberg acknowledged their findings and revealed how NO2 exposes children and makes them vulnerable to asthma. Their study, published in the Lancet Planetary Health journal, is proof that improving air quality should be prioritised if children are to be protected from the dangerous effects of toxic air.

The best way to protect children from NO2 and asthma is to reduce the number of fossil fuel-powered vehicles on roads. Greenhouse gas and other toxic emissions would decrease, which means the climate can become a little healthier. 

Anenberg was also involved in another study, one that claimed excess deaths totalling around 1.8 million every year are linked to air pollution in urban areas worldwide. This included cases in various cities in the UK – Liverpool (670), Leeds (730), Birmingham (1,330), and London (5,950). 

Additionally, the study indicated that almost 80% of children and adults who reside in various cities across the world are significantly exposed to high levels of PM2.5 or fine particulate matter. These levels exceeded the World Health Organization-mandated guidelines.

PM2.5 is highly toxic. These are tiny particles that can be easily inhaled and spread from the lungs to different organs of the body. PM2.5 can cause serious health impacts, including respiratory illnesses, lower respiratory infections, lung cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.

The average concentration of PM2.5 in all urban locations around the world in 2019 was 35µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre).  The WHO’s 2021 guideline was at 5µg/m3, which means that the 2019 average was at least seven times over the safe and legal limits. Based on previous studies, the UK average is 13µg/m3, which is unhealthy. 

Commenting on the two studies, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Dr Robert Hughes stressed the importance of moving away from fossil fuel dependence and air quality improvement in cities and towns.  

Why emissions are bad

Emissions from road transport, specifically diesel vehicles, have negative impacts on the environment and human health. Vehicles typically emit nitrogen oxide or NOx, which has nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide (NO) as main components.

NOx mixes with other elements and forms acid rain and smog. It also produces ground-level ozone, which can weaken vegetation and damage crops and plants.

If you are exposed to NOx emissions, you’ll be hounded by various health impacts. 

Your mental health can be affected and you may experience frequent episodes of depression and anxiety. Cognitive abilities may also weaken, which means your risk for dementia will increase.

Common (and mostly minor) health impacts include breathing difficulties, lung problems such as pulmonary oedema (your lungs fill up with fluid), asthma, and respiratory diseases, specifically emphysema and bronchitis. In certain cases, COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can set in.

Exposure to nitrogen oxide emissions can also lead to serious health effects, specifically asphyxiation, chronic lung function reduction, laryngospasm or vocal cords spasm, and cancers. Cardiovascular diseases can also develop over time, which often complicates the situation and can lead to premature death.

NOx emissions have been in the spotlight for years, starting with the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal in 2015 that involved the Volkswagen Group.

Diesel emissions scandal

The Dieselgate scam also referred to as the diesel emissions scandal, began in September 2015 with the VW Group receiving a notice of violation from authorities in the US accusing the carmaker of using defeat devices in their Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles. The cars were sold to American automobile consumers.

Defeat devices are used to cheat on emissions tests. A defeat device installed in a vehicle can detect when the car goes into testing and it immediately reduces emissions levels artificially. This allows emissions to stay within the WHO-regulated legal limits. 

While the vehicle appears clean and safe – emissions-compliant, this is only true during testing conditions. Once the vehicle is driven on real roads, it releases excessive and unlawful levels of NOx. As such, it contributes to air pollution. VW, therefore, cheated on and lied to their customers.

Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Vauxhall, and BMW have also been implicated in the scandal. These carmakers are possibly guilty of violating emissions regulations. BMW, for example, is accused of allegedly installing defeat devices in around 11,400 of its diesel vehicles. 

Thousands of affected car owners have brought their manufacturers to court through an emission claim. A successful case means they will receive compensation for the inconveniences they experienced as a result of the defeat devices.

Should I file my diesel claim?

Yes, you should. However, you have to verify first if you are eligible to file a diesel claim. It’s easy. All you have to do is visit to get all the information you need to start your BMW emissions claim.

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