Air Clean Up
Are Low Buggies Worse for Pollution?
Oct 04 2018 Read 727 Times
A new study has shown that babies who are pushed in low-slung buggies are exposed to 60% more pollutants than those pushed in high prams. Because the harmful emissions from exhaust fumes are typically found within one metre of the ground, the location of a baby in their stroller could make a significant difference to their inhalation of damaging contaminants.
The report provides further evidence that British infants are at risk from the torrid air quality present in many of the UK’s towns and cities and adds another voice to those clamouring for reform. It also serves as a precautionary piece of advice for parents concerned about the well-being of their children, and promotes the use of old-fashioned high prams such as the one used recently at the christening of the Princess Charlotte.
Proximity is toxicity
The majority of popular buggies, prams and strollers are designed so that the baby or toddler is positioned between 55cm and 85cm above the ground. While this may be convenient in terms of pushing them around town, it enhances the chance that they may be inhaling contaminants due to their proximity to exhaust tailpipes.
“We know that infants breathe in higher amounts of airborne particles relative to their lung size and body weight compared to adults,” explained Professor Prashant Kumar, lead author on the paper. “What we have proven here is that the height most children travel at while in a pram doubles the likelihood of negative impacts from air pollution when compared to an adult.”
Young lungs especially susceptible
While air pollution poses a threat to all of society, its most vulnerable members are most at risk. This includes those with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, the elderly and infirm and, of course, the very young. As their lungs are yet to fully develop, babies and infants are more likely to develop chronic health problems from exposure to poor air quality.
In fact, airborne pollution has been linked to all sorts of maladies in the very young, from high blood pressure to mental illness. The conclusions uncovered by the new study just add further fuel to the fire of concern facing many parents, who are worried about how the contaminated air found in many British towns and cities may be affecting their offspring.
Time for action is now
As well as being advised to employ a higher pram for ferrying their children around, parents are also advised to keep abreast of air quality monitoring reports and tailor their walks and commutes to avoid pollution hotspots.
Of course, the best solution to the problem would be to tackle it at its cause. As well as planting shrubbery and hedges at exhaust height to absorb some of the most harmful particles, the government is also being pressurised to improve air quality and reduce transport-related pollution on a national scale. As yet, its efforts to do so have been unconvincing, drawing criticism from many quarters, but the early implementation of London’s ultra-low emissions zones (ULEZs) is at least a step in the right direction.
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