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New UK Study Shows Link between Pollution and Long-Term Illness

A new study conducted between people aged 40 and 69 revealed that air pollution is associated with several long-term ailments, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological conditions. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues are also common.

Over 360,000 individuals were observed in the study using data collected from the UK Biobank. Most of these respondents resided in contaminated or highly polluted areas. The researchers’ findings remained the same even if income differences were taken into consideration during the study.

In December last year, the UK government made known England’s intention to set the goal for following the World Health Organization’s 2005 guidelines for particle pollution 35 years after they were set – by the year 2040. This means people exposed to high levels of toxic air will have greater chances of developing several long-term health conditions.

Study leader and King’s College London’s Dr. Ioannis Bakolis said it is important to monitor the changes in people’s health over a period of time to determine if their chronic health issues were caused by air pollution. Identifying the link between exposure to toxic air and numerous health risks is essential in the planning and execution of policies and projects that can help address the global problem. Examples of such actions include avoiding areas with high levels of air pollution, especially when building homes or similar structures, and expanding the Ultra-Low and Clean Air Zones (ULEZ and CAZs).

Collecting and studying data from the past is also important, specifically in terms of chronic illnesses, their progress, and the factors that caused them. A good example of this is the Great Smog of London that happened in December 1952.

From 5 December to 9 December that year, the entire City of London was covered by extremely thick smog that reached indoor areas and reduced visibility. The great smog also had severe impacts on thousands of people’s respiratory health. Around 4,000 died and approximately 100,000 were admitted because of respiratory tract infections. Years later, research came out with higher numbers of fatalities – an estimated total of between 10,000 and 12,000 premature deaths.

A 2016 study involving some survivors of The Great Smog, particularly those who were under a year old when it happened, looked at their health and the toxic incident’s effect on it. In their childhood years, the young survivors were at least 20% more vulnerable to asthma, especially when compared with children residing outside the city. Later in their adult years, their asthma risk rose by around 10%.

Although London had been exposed to poor air quality since the 13th century, the Great Smog was caused by coal, which Londoners at that time used during extremely cold weather conditions. Additionally, several coal-fired power stations were operating in Greater London at that time.

The Ministry of Health also found death records from the past that revealed how smog has been destroying lives for around 80 years already. So, evidence has been available for years.

All these discoveries are evidence that air pollution can cause a long list of chronic health conditions.

Emissions from road transport

If The Great Smog had coal to blame for the suffocating toxic air that covered the whole of London, this time around, road transport emissions play a significant role in dirtying the city air. The 2015 Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal is a major factor in this aspect because it involves some of the world’s most popular carmakers.

The scandal started when US authorities issued the Volkswagen Group a notice of violation, accusing them of allegedly installing defeat devices in Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles sold to American drivers. The devices manipulated emissions levels during testing.

A defeat device detects when a vehicle is being subjected to a regulatory test and reduces emissions levels to within the WHO’s legal and safe limits. As such, during the entirety of the assessment, the vehicle appears emissions-compliant and environmentally safe.

When the vehicle is out and driven on real-world roads, however, it reverts to its default settings and starts to, once again, emit voluminous amounts of nitrogen oxide, contributing significantly to air pollution.

Emissions from diesel vehicles are known as nitrogen oxide or NOx. It is a group of gases that includes nitrogen dioxide or NO2 and nitric oxide or NO. NOx helps form smog and acid rain. It can also produce a pollutant called ground-level ozone, which can weaken and destroy crops, plants, and other vegetation.

Exposure to NOx emissions will have you experiencing different health impacts, including:

  • Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues
  • Dementia due to diminished cognitive abilities
  • Emphysema, bronchitis, and other respiratory illnesses
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Premature death

Authorities hold carmakers responsible for the devastating impacts of NOx emissions. Affected car owners are urged to bring a diesel claim against their carmaker.

Should I file my diesel claim now?

The best time to file your diesel claim is now as the process can be lengthy. However, you must first visit ClaimExperts.co.uk to verify if you are eligible to bring a claim against your carmaker. You’ll get all the information you need from them so you can start working on your emission claim.

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