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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Relevant for us, living on or near busy roads. This study is looking at small particles, particularly produced by diesel vehicles.

Note that effects are noticed below current EU safety standards...

Study links air pollution and traffic with low birthweight

Exhaust fumes
Exhaust fumes. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Babies born to mothers who live in areas with air pollution and dense traffic are more likely to have a low birthweight and smaller head circumference, according to a large European study.

The researchers, who included a team from the UK, found that babies were smaller even in areas with relatively low levels of air pollution, well below the limits considered acceptable in European Union guidance.

For every increase of 5 micrograms per cubic metre in exposure to fine particulate matter during pregnancy, the risk of low birthweight in the baby rose by 18%.

Although they cannot establish from this research that air pollution is the cause of low birthweight, the authors of the study, published in the Lancet respiratory medicine journal, believe the link is strong enough to demand action.

"Our findings suggest that a substantial proportion of cases of low birthweight at term could be prevented in Europe if urban air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter, was reduced," said lead author Dr Marie Pedersen from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona.

Low birthweight in babies is a concern, because it often predicts poorer health as children and later as adults. A small head circumference could indicate problems with neurodevelopment.

The research pooled the results of studies from 12 countries in Europe, involving more than 74,000 women who gave birth between 1994 and 2011, living in a range of different settings, from inner-city to semi rural. One of the biggest cohorts, involving 11,000 women, was from Bradford.

Dr John Wright, director of the Bradford Institute for Health Research and chief investigator of the ongoing Born in Bradford study which is following the lives of more than 13,000 families, said the findings allowed for other aspects of the women's lives that could have led to smaller birthweight babies.

"There tends to be social patterning – poor people tend to live in inner-city areas where there is more road traffic and poorer diet," he said. But the study had achieved "very rich data collection" on the lives of the mothers, and was able to allow for other issues that could affect the baby's development, such as smoking. Mothers who smoked had a higher likelihood of a low birthweight baby than those who did not, but only a minority smoke, whereas everybody is affected by air pollution in the area where they live.

Wright said the study made the case for regulatory intervention. "You can stop smoking and drink less alcohol and get more physical exercise. Pregnant women do this really well. But for air pollution there is nothing much you can do. This is a classic example of public health policymaking that needs to happen."

In a commentary with the paper, Professor Jonathan Grigg, from Queen Mary, University of London, said: "Overall, maternal exposure to traffic-derived particulate matter probably increases vulnerability of their offspring to a wide range of respiratory disorders in both infancy and later life."

Difficult decisions needed to be made, he said. "The introduction of the low emission zone in London, UK, has had little effect on concentration of particulate matter, although the vehicle mix has been altered. UK policymakers have shied away from radical solutions to the issue, such as changing diesel-powered black cabs (which contribute 20% of London's locally generated particulate matter) to cleaner petrol-powered alternatives."

Tags for Forum Posts: air pollution, cars, diesel, traffic

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FYI, these PM2.5 air pollutants are monitored in one place in Haringey, inside Priory Park.

Here's a graph of its readings this year - note that the paper says that they detected effects at levels below an annual average of 25ug/m3

Oops, not the one inside Priory Park, it's actually beside Tottenham High Road - see Haringey's air pollution report

Michael, thank you for this information.  As you may have seen from this site my colleagues and I have been working with the council and police to try and deal with the problem of HGVs using the Ladder roads and Wightman Road - I am convinced that high pollution levels from these vehicles is detrimental to residents to all of us living on the ladder particularly because of the proximity of our houses to the main roads and very small frontages.  Its something we continue to work on.

Wonder what that peak was mid October 2013, but air quality Seven Sisters West Green Road Junction is diabolical, its used by a lot of pedestrians and is a main traffic artery in and out of London, its a cocktail of pollutants and I believe is a consequence of a lot of chest problems with people in the area, cyclists should wear masks to prevent particulates settling into their lungs and then I consider that prams and buggys are literally at exhaust level, I would separate the heavy fossil fuel traffic from pedestrian traffic, if that's possible. There is a need for breathing emergency health services in the area as well as mental health services due to the stress of having to deal with heavy traffic when going to the shops and having to cross 6 lanes. More tree and wild folliage coverage for pedestrians as this is known to help the air quality and at least some areas of solace away from the hectic rush hours although it always seems to be rush hour there.

Amazing isn't it eh? All the lies, fabrications, warped statistics & junk science plus using the fear of the "dreaded SHS" which has never, ever killed anyone are now proved to be exactly that as the greatest killer/infector of all has, at long last, been recognised. Dr Kitty Little was totally ignored back in the 90's when she proposed that exhaust fumes were the biggest danger of all. [ http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/diesel_lung_cancer.html#.UmLB81MRcbY ]

All the pathetic ballyhoo about shisha businesses etc is simply yet another smokescreen to gain control over the people of this country, yet they do not think of the costs to this country-read on folks! [ http://handymanphil.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/dreams-v-reality.html ]. The costs of each smoker quitting (at a mere 4 weeks) has amounted to £410,000 apiece so where is this lunacy all going when the air with breathe is so contaminated.

Amend the smoking ban, let pubs & clubs survive again. Thousands of pregnant mothers survived smoking during the 50's and we are all here to prove the point. Leave the smokers alone-once and for all.

" Study links low birthweight to air pollution and traffic.... "

But -

" Although they cannot establish from this research that air pollution is the cause of low birthweight, the authors of the study....... "

Junk science or Guardian junk journalism ?

Sorry to disappoint you, but that tends to be the way epidemiology works. It's imperfect, but it's so hard to get the human experimental subjects these days.

I think you'll find that this isn't Guardian science - it's from the Lancet respiratory medicine - here's the abstract, a major multi-centre study with around 50 authors. Their conclusions was "Exposure to ambient air pollutants and traffic during pregnancy is associated with restricted fetal growth. A substantial proportion of cases of low birthweight at term could be prevented in Europe if urban air pollution was reduced."

There's nothing new about the association between PM2.5 pollution & health issues, but it's interesting to see the association with fetal growth.

"the problem of HGVs using the Ladder roads and Wightman Road  . . . . . . .detrimental to residents to all of us living on the ladder"

I return hesitantly to what some may think my five-year-old pedantry. I think my Councillor must finally and resolutely decide that she lives on both The Ladder and Wightman Road simultaneously


But to return to the problem of michaelw's being kept awake at night by a surfeit of "guardianscience":

Further south on Wightman Road my colleagues and I, without help from either Council or Police,  are working on an elegant solution to the growing 'small-circumference-headed'  population on the heavily particulated rung roads. Stem cells extracted from our excellent cauliflower crop are evolving into very passable human infant heads in our hermetically sealed greenhouse. We have no doubt that, within a matter of weeks, we will be able to offer parents and prospective parents through Harringay Sunday Market a varied selection of large infant heads, of cranial circumference to suit every taste and at prices to suit every purse. We can assure Market Management and Parents that these exciting products will meet even the most stringent of DEFRA requirements, as well as exhibiting IQ levels to suit Haringey New Labour's Free Schools and Academies. All heads will come attractively packaged with clear instructions for retro-fitting in your own home.

Somewhat reminiscent of an earlier modest proposal ( came the swift reply )

Indeed, for our veg-headed experiment we are doubly indebted to the late Dean. The learned extractor of sunbeam particulates from cucumbers at the Academy of Lagado was our chief inspirer but the Dean's Modest Proposal for fattening big-headed offspring of Irish peasants led us to the non-meat corner of Harringay Market.

2.5 years later and situation worse than ever ffs! remember stay out of what you can see because the toxins you cannot see are also extremely harmful but just to get things in perspective the multiple nuclear melt down at Fukushima is still ongoing and poisoning the Pacific ocean, 5 years later and dispersal is no solution but that appears to be the objective, containment not achievable, still want new nuclear, General Electrics mark 1 is a danger to the whole planet, pollution has no borders, just saying.....



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