Babies in Strollers Breathe Up to 60 Percent More Dangerous Air Pollution Than Adults
Parents might want to think twice before pushing their babies in strollers alongside busy streets.
A study published Aug. 10 in Environment International by the Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) at the University of Surrey found that babies pushed in strollers can be exposed to up to 60 percent more air pollution than adults.
"We know that infants breathe in higher amounts of airborne particles relative to their lung size and body weight compared to adults. What we have proven here is that the height most children travel at while in a pram increases the likelihood of negative impacts from air pollution when compared to an adult," study author and GCARE Founding Director Professor Prashant Kumar said in a University of Surrey press release. "When you also consider how vulnerable they are because of their tissues, immune systems and brain development at this early stage of their life, it is extremely worrying that they are being exposed to these dangerous levels of pollution."
The study found that vehicle exhaust pipes are usually located around 1 meter (approximately 1.09 yards) above ground level, and most babies in strollers are positioned between 0.55 meters (approximately 0.6 yards) and 0.85 meters (approximately 0.93 yards) above ground level.
Infants travelling at that height can be exposed to particulate matter, black carbon, nitrogen oxides and toxic metals.
The study did not compare different stroller types, but Kumar told BBC News that parents could reduce their children's exposure by using stroller covers and avoiding streets that got lots of car traffic.
The study also recommended a variety of solutions, from building hedges between sidewalks and cars, reducing emissions overall and designing strollers that created a "clean air zone" around the child's nose and mouth.
But Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Professor Jonathan Grigg, who was not involved with the research, had a more far-reaching solution in mind.
"To help protect children's health we must promote alternatives to cars fuelled by petrol and diesel," he told BBC News.
The study comes as concerns about the impact of polluted air on children's health in the UK have been growing.
In July, newly revealed documents surrounding the death of a nine-year-old girl from asthma in 2013 showed her attacks were associated with spikes in illegal air pollution levels near her London home. While air pollution in the UK is linked to 40,000 premature deaths a year, hers could be the first officially listed as such on her death certificate.
Kumar hoped his research would further discussion of this urgent issue.
"With the multitude of evidence we set out in this review, it is important that everyone across the country begin a full and frank conversation about pollution and the impact it has on our most vulnerable–from parents and community leaders, to government officials and industry," he said in the university press release.
2.9 Million Children Are Threatened by Toxic Air Pollution From Oil & Gas Development https://t.co/Qssm2AnICK @CleanAirMoms @Earthworks @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1506535938.0
By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria was likely responsible for more than 300 elephant deaths in Botswana this year, the country's wildlife department announced on Monday.
How Did Cyanobacteria Poison the Elephants?<p>Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Some cyanobacteria produce neurotoxins.</p><p>The cyanobacteria "was growing in pans" or watering holes, the principal veterinary officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mmadi Reuben, told reporters.</p><p>Reuben said the deaths had "stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of pans."</p><p>"However we have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only? We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating," added Reuben.</p><p>Similar elephant deaths have also been recorded in neighboring Zimbabwe.</p>
Climate Change to Blame?<p>Not all cyanobacteria are toxic but scientists say varieties dangerous to humans and animals are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.</p><p>Southern Africa's temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p>
Elephant Paradise?<p>Africa's overall elephant population is declining due to poaching. But Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.</p><p>Botswana's government said it was continuing studies into the occurrence of the deadly bacteria. In the winter, elephants hydrate themselves mainly by eating roots and bark, especially of the baobab tree.</p>
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