Traffic-Related Pollution Making Its Way into Pediatric Lungs

By Eliana Rosenzweig

            A comprehensive study done by the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health estimates 4 million children worldwide are developing asthma each year. Research collected from 2010 to 2015 concluded that approximately 64% of new asthma cases were diagnosed in urban areas. This study is the first of its kind to quantify the incidence of pediatric asthma related to nitrogen dioxide exposure from traffic-related pollution. This correlation was established in 125 major cities around the world. Cities in the United States found to be the most affected by nitrogen dioxide pollution were Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee. In fact, the United States came in third for the largest burden of air pollution, behind China and India, with 240,000 cases of asthma per year.

            The study suggests environmental efforts concentrated on reducing air pollution may not be a waste of a time. In fact, the correlation between pediatric asthma and nitrogen dioxide supports the urgent need for a reduction in air pollution, specifically with regard to nitrogen dioxide. Increasing physical activity by biking or walking as well as using electric powered alternatives to public transportation may not only help get people in shape, but also help reduce the threat of pollution on pediatric asthma as well as climate change as a whole. The study also suggests a focus on asthma prevention among the pediatric population around the world; researchers propose creating stricter air pollution guidelines related to nitrogen dioxide emissions. Future studies will focus on identifying the specific element of traffic-related pollution that is actually inducing asthma in children worldwide.


George Washington University. (2019, April 10). Millions of children worldwide develop asthma annually due to traffic-related pollution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 11, 2019 from