Parents urged to use pram covers to protect against air pollution

A study from the University of Surrey has advised that parents should use pram covers when transporting young children outside to reduce their exposure to harmful air pollution.

The researchers carried out a series of experiments using high specification air monitoring equipment located inside a pram to gauge the kind of pollutants and toxic chemicals toddlers are exposed to when accompanying older siblings during the school drop off/pick up peak times.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, outlined that traffic lights and bust stops were pollution hotspots, particularly during morning rush hour.

The findings come after a recent WHO report stated that 570,000 children under the age of five die every year from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, and second-hand smoke.

Dr Prashant Kumar, lead author of the study, said: “Previous research has shown that young children are far more susceptible to pollution than adults, due to their immature and developing systems and lower body weight. These findings provide an insight for families who
walk to and from nursery/primary schools with young children. Essentially, children could be at risk of breathing in some nasty and harmful chemical species such as iron, aluminium and silica that form together the particles of various size ranges.

“One of the simplest ways to combat this is to use a barrier between the in-pram children and the exhaust emissions, especially at pollution hotspots such as traffic intersections, so parents could use pram covers if at all possible. We are also working closely with our industrial partners to develop innovative methods to clean the air around the children in their in-pram microenvironments.”

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