New Study Shows Effects of Air Pollution on Children

A new study conducted at the University of California, Davis came out with data revealing the ill effects of exposure to air pollution on children. Published in the New Directions for Child and Adolescent Research journal last August 3, the study shows how children exposed to high levels of toxic air have increased inflammation markers, including interleukin 6, which is linked to increased mortality risk.

Additionally, exposure to higher levels of air pollution impacts children’s lower cardiac autonomic regulation. This affects the heart – how fast it beats and how hard it pumps. 

To collect the data they needed, researchers used blood samples that were taken from over 100 children aged nine to 11, all in good health. The respondents were from Sacramento, California, where the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified pollutants surrounding the residential areas.

UC Davis Department of Psychology doctoral student Anna M. Parenteau and associate professor Camelia E. Hostinar authored the study that also observed EPA data on PM2.5, a type of fine particulate matter that can easily go through the lungs and bloodstream. This was how they discovered that their respondents’ blood had systemic inflammation markers. 

Fine particulate matter of PM2.5, which measures 2.5 micrometres, was responsible for the lower cardiac autonomic regulation, which is what the study uncovered after an ECG (electrocardiogram). The research team based their findings on data gathered and managed by the EPA. The environmental agency summarises air quality information using outdoor monitors.


Of the 100 children who participated in the study, inflammation markers were found in around 27 respondents. These were from the times when significant fires happened in their neighbourhoods, and when PM2.5 levels were quite high.

What researchers uncovered were similar to findings of a study conducted earlier, one in which UC Davis researchers collected the blood of young primates after several wildfires took place.

The study is an indication that exposure to toxic care has immediate repercussions; effects that can have an impact on human health. Children are more at risk when exposed to air pollution because unlike adults, they are more sensitive to and have more capacity to ingest contaminants as their lung surface is often more comparable with their body weight.

Aside from the negative health impacts, the study also proved one more thing: that more developmental research is needed on environmental contaminants, air pollution in particular, and their effects. This can help determine which direction to take in terms of formulating and improving policies. 

The results of the study prove that children’s poor health or health problems are caused by exposure to toxic air or poor air quality. 

Nitrogen oxide emissions

One of the major contributors to toxic air is NOx or nitrogen oxide, which comes from diesel-powered vehicles. Two of its main components are dangerous gases – NO2 or nitrogen dioxide and NO or nitric oxide. 

NOx also forms ground-level ozone when it reacts with other compounds. This toxic gas impacts vegetation, making plants and crops susceptible to frost damage. Additionally, it stunts their growth. 

Several studies have also proven that nitrogen oxide emission can trigger mental health issues. If a person is constantly exposed to the pollutant, they can develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.

However, as the new study’s findings prove, the most devastating effects of exposure to nitrogen oxide are on a person’s (especially children’s) health. 

Low-level exposure to NOx can have the following impacts on a person’s health:

  • Difficulty breathing/breathing problems
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory diseases, including emphysema and bronchitis
  • Asthma (or aggravated asthma if the person already has the condition)
  • Lung issues

Exposure to high levels of NOx, especially on a regular basis, has more serious impacts:

  • Severe effects on lung function 
  • Increased susceptibility to some diseases, specifically cancer and cardiovascular issues
  • Spasm of the vocal cords or laryngospasm
  • Asphyxiation
  • Premature death

Nitrogen oxide has been in the spotlight since 2015, when the Dieselgate scandal involving Mercedes-Benz first broke.

What was the Dieselgate scandal about?

It was September 2015 when German carmaker Volkswagen was alleged to have installed illegal defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. The California Air Resources Board and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused the manufacturer of using the devices to control emissions tests.

A defeat device is designed to detect when a vehicle goes into regulatory emissions testing. Once the device confirms this, it reduces emissions levels artificially so emissions are kept within the World Health Organization’s set legal limits.

Furthermore, when the vehicle is taken out on the road in real-world driving conditions, the emissions increase to levels that are over the EU and WHO limits. As such, the vehicle is a heavy pollutant.

After VW, Mercedes-Benz was implicated in the diesel emissions scandal. Other car manufacturers have also been accused of using illegal defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. 

Filing an emissions claim

Carmakers deceived car owners who only wanted to get the best out of the premium price they paid for the vehicle. This is why you, and anyone affected, should file a diesel claim against the manufacturer. Working with a panel of emissions solicitors can help you get the compensation you deserve.  

First off, though, you have to get in touch with the team at to determine if you are qualified to file an emissions diesel claim. Head on over to their website to see if you are eligible. It’s one solid step in making that claim.