Filthy fumes putting children at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks

A new study by George Washington University and published in Lancet Planetary Health today (Wednesday 10th April 2019), reveals that 13% of childhood asthma cases diagnosed globally each year are linked to traffic pollution and that the UK ranks 24th in the world for traffic pollution being attributable for childhood asthma. Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Policy and Research at Asthma UK, said:

“Polluted air is a major threat to public health, affecting an estimated half a million children with asthma in the UK* and putting them at risk of having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.

“Worryingly, this study confirms existing research** which shows that children who are breathing in toxic air from traffic fumes have stunted lung growth and are at risk of developing asthma.

“This week, London introduced an Ultra-Low Emission Zone which is a welcome step in cleaning up the capital’s toxic air. But air pollution is blighting the lives of children across the UK, not just in London.

“The Government must commit to targets that reduce toxic air across the UK to the legal levels recommended by the World Health Organisation, so that future generations can breathe clean air.”


For further information, please contact:

Rebecca Lewis, media officer, Asthma UK

Landline: 0207 786 5004

OOO: 07951 721 393

For more information, please contact the Asthma UK media team on, 020 7786 4949 (during office hours) or 07951 721393 (outside of office hours).

Notes to Editor:


* From Asthma UK’s report Falling Through The Gaps: Why More People Need Basic Asthma Care, 46.2% of 17 or under said air pollution was a trigger for their asthma (most were answered by a parent on their behalf). To find the estimated number of children with asthma in the UK who said air pollution triggered their asthma, we applied this proportion to the population of children with asthma in the UK (1.1million), to get a figure of 508,200.

** A study, part-funded by Asthma UK and led by Queen Mary’s University, London, Kings College London and University of Edinburgh of 2,000 children found that in London's Low Emission Zones, a smaller lung volume in children was associated with higher annual air pollutant exposures

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