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How does air pollution affect infants in prams?
Global pollution is a major threat to the health of many people. Researchers found that babies and toddlers in prams are about 60 percent more exposed to pollution than adults.
The University of Surrey scientists found in their study that babies in strollers suffer much more from pollution than adults. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Environment International".
Why are babies so affected by pollution?
Infants in a stroller are much more exposed to polluted air because they are closer to the ground in the stroller and therefore are also more directly exposed to the exhaust gases from exhaust pipes, the experts say. The babies are also more at risk of health hazards due to the dirty air because their bodies are still small and developing.
How can the burden be reduced?
Parents should avoid busy roads and use stroller covers to reduce pollution, the study authors advise. The breathing height of infants in the stroller is between 0.55 m and 0.85 m above the floor. Because the pollution level is up to one meter higher, infants in prams are 60 percent more exposed to fine dust than adults, the scientists explain.
Babies should not be exposed to dangerous concentrations of pollutants
Street air pollution contains high levels of toxic metals that can affect brain development in infants, the researchers say. Considering how vulnerable infants are to their early stage of life due to their tissue, immune system and brain development, it is extremely worrying that babies and infants are exposed to these dangerous concentrations of pollutants, says study author Professor Prashant Kumar of the University of Surrey.
The environment influences the load
The amount of pollutants ingested by babies can be lower in areas with less traffic, and the environment also affects the load, the scientists explain. For example, if there are hedges next to the road, the pollution is distributed differently than without such hedges, according to the study authors.
Emissions have to be reduced
However, the study did not investigate whether some strollers protect against pollution better or worse than others. Scientists are calling for more to be done to reduce air pollution or reduce its impact. For example, emissions from road vehicles could be reduced and the use of public transport must be promoted more.
Alternatives to cars should be encouraged
Given the variety of evidence presented in the study, it is important that all people start a comprehensive and sincere discussion about pollution and the negative effects on babies and babies, from parents and local politicians to government and industry, says Professor Kumar. To protect children's health, alternatives to cars that run on petrol and diesel should also be promoted, for example. (as)