Only choking

A study reported on the Guardian environment pages today shows the link between children’s exposure to particles from vehicle exhausts and the likelihood of their developing pneumonia.   The research was carrried out by Professor Jonathan Grigg, who has studied the effects of air pollution upon children across the world, including indoor air pollution from stoves in developing countries.  He says, according to the article, that the risk of a child’s developing pneumonia could be up to 65% higher if he or she lives within a hundred metres of a major road.  Though we think of it as a condition of the elderly, around 20,000 children in the UK are admitted to hospital with pneumonia every year.  Of these, around seventy will die.  In 2008, for example, seventy-six people under the age of twenty died of pneumonia here – fifty-two of them babies and toddlers of three or under.  Even my arithmetic can work out that’s one a week. 


This is Barbara Maher of Lancaster University talking last year on the BBC website about exhaust particulates.  Unfortunately, small children don’t usually get the chance to take the wise precautions she recommends – especially when they are strapped into a car seat or buggy just at the height where particulate levels are most intense.  

Professor Grigg, who is hereby awarded the inaugural Decombustion Good Egg of the Week Award,  is hoping to set up a Centre for Children’s Environmental Health, the first in this country.  It shouldn’t cost more than a few lorryloads of swine flu vaccine…