Research conducted by a group of Sweden-based scientists has revealed that improved air quality in Stockholm since the early 2000s has resulted in improved lung capacity among children and adolescents. Through a study of 4000 individuals born within a two year period from 1994 to 1996, the researchers surveyed and examined the lungs of the participants at 8, 16, and 24 years old and compared it to the levels of estimated air pollutants from vehicles emissions at the locations where the participants resided. Results showed that air pollution levels from 2016 to 2019 were 40-60% lower than in 2002 and 2004 and that lung function improved by a few per cent in the participants in the young adult age bracket. This is significant as children are more vulnerable to air pollution given their still developing immune systems and lungs. The American Lung Association notes that 80% of a person’s air sacs start developing after birth and that children breathe twice as fast as adults, taking in more air for each unit of their body weight. The UNICEF report also states that Asia holds the highest number of deaths attributed to air pollution. Thus, it is clear that efforts to improve air quality have a direct beneficial effect on child and adolescent health, reducing the likelihood of them developing chronic diseases later in life.
Clean Air Increases Children's Lung Capacity