Dr Mark Rosenthal

MD MB ChB FRCP FRCPCH BSc

Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

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Air pollution is a significant problem for anyone living in a town or city, but it can be particularly troubling if you have a child with a lung condition such as asthma. Air pollution levels in the UK are generally low enough, in most places, for children to walk or play outside with no problems, but sometimes extra care is needed. The treatment provided by your respiratory pediatrician can help, but you should still be careful.

The Effects of Air Pollution

High pollution levels can cause problems for lungs, particularly if those lungs are not fully grown or if they are already under pressure from a condition like asthma. Common air pollutants include particles soot, dust and chemicals like nitrates, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and sulphur dioxide. When there is a lot of pollution in the air, it can quickly cause symptoms such as breathlessness and irritated airways. It can also increase the chances of having an asthma attack.

Avoiding Air Pollution

It is best to avoid areas with heavy traffic or lots of industrial pollution as much as possible. Try to choose routes along quieter streets or pick a playground to visit in the middle of a leafy park rather than by the roadside. Just being a little further from the main sources of pollution can have a significant effect on what you are breathing in.

Sometimes pollution levels become particularly high. You may see a warning included with the weather forecast on these days. The inhalers or medication provided by your respiratory pediatrician should still be able to help, but you should take extra care in avoiding pollution hotspots. Try to avoid going out during rush hour and look for indoor alternatives like swimming or climbing walls so that your child won’t be running around too much outdoors. If you are concerned about your child’s breathing, you can contact your respiratory pediatrician for advice.

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