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expert reaction to a study on the impact of London’s low emission zone on air quality and child health

Researchers published in the Lancet Public Health show that within London’s low emission zone (LEZ), a smaller lung volume in children was associated with higher annual air pollutant exposures. They argue that interventions that deliver larger reductions in emissions might yield improvements in children’s health.


Dr Stefan Reis, Head of Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), said:

“This study highlights a key challenge for the implementation of policy interventions to improve air quality. Much emphasis has been placed to date on the attainment of air quality limit values at few existing air quality monitoring sites. However, planned measures aiming to reduce population exposure in urban areas, and in particular vulnerable groups such as children or older adults, need to be adequately assessed prior to implementation. While the relatively small improvements in ambient NO2 concentrations reported here are so far not delivering the substantial public health improvements needed, implementation and enforcement come at considerable cost. Detailed modelling of where people spend time and are exposed to harmful levels, in combination with policy measures targeting the main contributing emission sources could lead to improved design and cost-effectiveness of interventions, as Low-Emission Zones are rolled out in other locations.”

Impact of London’s low emission zone on air quality and children’s respiratory health: a sequential annual cross-sectional study’ by Ian Mudway et al. was published in Lancet Public Health at 23:30 UK time on Wednesday 14th November.


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:


Declared interests

Dr Stefan Reis: “I declare no conflict of interest or involvement in the research.”

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