Sat, Apr 13, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Kids at high risk of asthma linked to traffic: report

Staff writer, with CNA

People look down at Taipei covered in smog due to poor dispersion, which caused air pollutants to accumulate, on March 3.

Photo: CNA

A landmark study has found that Taiwan has the fourth-highest rate of new traffic-related child asthma cases among 194 nations, the equivalent of 420 new cases per 100,000 children each year, British newspaper the Guardian reported.

About 4 million children develop asthma every year as a result of air pollution from traffic, equivalent to 11,000 new cases per day, the newspaper said, citing a study published on Wednesday in the Lancet Planetary Health journal.

The damage to children’s health is not limited to China and India, where pollution levels are particularly high, it said.

In cities in the UK and the US, researchers identified traffic pollution as being responsible for one-fourth of all new childhood asthma cases, it added.

Kuwait has the highest per capita rate of new traffic-related asthma cases among the 194 nations analyzed, equivalent to 550 cases per 100,000 children each year, followed by the United Arab Emirates at 460 cases per 100,000 children and Canada at 450 cases per 100,000 children, the study said.

Children are especially vulnerable to toxic air and exposure is also known to leave them with stunted lungs, the newspaper said.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Thursday said that to reduce the harmful effects that air pollution can have on people’s health, it would continue to work with the Environmental Protection Administration on mitigation efforts.

These would involve issuing alerts for air pollution whenever the agency’s air quality index monitoring network detects an excessive amount of airborne harmful gases and suspended particles, including PM2.5 — an indicator of airborne particles measuring 2.5 micrometers or less that are small enough to penetrate the deepest part of the lungs.

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