A chief scientist in the United Kingdom has recently come out with some rather interesting news for those in his country. David King says that the air pollution inside a car is much more damaging to the health of a child than the air outside, even though the air pollution in the UK continues to exceed the legal levels.
Walking or cycling to school is better for children’s health as cars are “boxes collecting toxic gases,” according to Prof Sir David King. “Children sitting in the backseat of vehicles are likely to be exposed to dangerous levels [of air pollution],” said King. “You may be driving a cleaner vehicle but your children are sitting in a box collecting toxic gases from all the vehicles around you.”
Isn’t climate change fun? Environmental warriors are still clueless though, as they clamor for more laws which will cost them all more money. The warning comes as the UK government faces a third legal defeat for failing to take care of the country’s illegal levels of air pollution. Air pollutants are known to damage children’s developing lungs but recent research also indicates that it harms children’s ability to learn at school and it may damage their DNA. Yet King says that the air outside is still much better for a child’s health that the air inside that oh-so-green car that’s being driven around.
He said new legislation to ban smoking in cars with children had gained widespread support, “So why are we still happy for our children to breathe in toxic emissions in the back of our cars?” King went on to say, “It’s been shown that the health benefits of walking and cycling far outweigh the costs of breathing in pollution. If more drivers knew the damage they could be doing to their children, I think they’d think twice about getting in the car.” Regardless of how clean you think your car is, your child is still inhaling toxic fumes while stuck in that box. And, regardless of the pollution levels in the UK, King still says it’s better for a child to be outside.
A range of experiments, some as far back as 2001, have shown that drivers inside vehicles are exposed to far higher levels of air pollution than those walking or cycling along the same urban routes. Prof Stephen Holgate, an asthma expert at Southampton University and chair of the Royal College of Physicians working party on air pollution, said there was enough evidence to tell parents that walking and cycling exposes their children to less air pollution than driving.
“It is nine to 12 times higher inside the car than outside,” he said. “Children are in the back of the car and often the car has the fans on, just sucking the fresh exhaust coming out of the car or lorry in front of them straight into the back of the car.” Holgate said that not only are children more susceptible to the poor air quality inside a car than an adult, but the added exercise from being outside and walking or biking to school is a benefit as well.
Ben Barratt, from King’s College London, measured the exposure of people traveling by car, bus, bicycle and walking in London in 2014. “The car driver, by a very long way, was exposed to the highest level of pollution,” he said. “The fumes from the vehicles in front and behind were coming into the car and getting trapped there. It is not true that you can escape pollution by sitting inside a vehicle.”
Recent research has added to the concern about the impact of air pollution on children, beyond the direct harm to their lungs. A study in Barcelona showed that air pollution reduces the ability of children to concentrate and slows their reaction times. “This adds to the evidence that air pollution may have potential harmful effects on neurodevelopment,” the scientists wrote.
A smaller study, in California, showed higher levels of traffic-related air pollution correlated with increased DNA damage in children.” Children may be especially vulnerable to the effects of telomeric DNA damage due to their physical development as well as developing immune system,” said the scientists.
The scientists in the UK are still concerned that their government continues to operate outside the realms of pollution laws – as if governments actually follow their own edicts. Part of the problem is the over regulation and interference of government in the private sector. Most people who drive a lot don’t need to be pressured to buy a fuel efficient car, as doing so saves money on fuel. But governments never see things the way the private sector or an individual would.
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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.