Top 10 Cities for Car Pollution and Asthma

Top 10 Cities for Car Pollution and Asthma

Figure 1: Top 10 Cities for Air Pollution and Asthma. Cities in South America and Asia have been estimated to have the highest burden of childhood asthma from transportation emissions. These data were based on measurements of Nitrogen Dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, and a statistical model relating Nitrogen Dioxide with asthma.

It's no secret that cars and trucks cause air pollution.

Internal combustion engines drive modern transportation. These engines transport people and goods through small, controlled explosions.

Many know about carbon dioxide and its effects on the climate as a greenhouse gas.

However, fewer know about the effects of nitrogen dioxide. Similar to carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide comes from burning fossil fuels. Unlike Carbon Dioxide, it is directly harmful to health.

Researchers used measured concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, and the relationship between nitrogen dioxide and asthma, to estimate new cases of asthma attributable to air pollution.

Around the world, South America and Asia have the most polluted cities in terms of NO2. In Lima, an estimated 690 out of every 100,000 kids will develop asthma from transportation related air pollution. This is followed closely by Shanghai at 650/100,000 kids.

Source: Global, national, and urban burdens of paediatric asthma incidence attributable to ambient NO2 pollution: estimates from global datasets

Top 5 American Cities for Car Pollution and Asthma

Top 5 American Cities for Car Pollution and Asthma

Figure 2: Top 5 American Cities for Car Pollution and Asthma. Among major American Cities, Los Angeles and New York City have the highest burdens of childhood asthma from transportation pollution. These data were based on measurements of Nitrogen Dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, and a statistical model relating Nitrogen Dioxide with asthma.

Among American cities, the top 3 most populated cities also have the highest incidence of childhood asthma from transportation emissions, based on nitrogen dioxide concentrations. Of note, population is adjusted out in these figures as they are calculated in terms of cases per 100,000 children per year.

The cities listed above all have much higher levels of air pollution than the United States as a whole, at 300 cases/100,000 children, suggesting that the effects of air pollution on asthma is concentrated in major cities.

Source: Global, national, and urban burdens of paediatric asthma incidence attributable to ambient NO2 pollution: estimates from global datasets

Top 10 Countries for Car Pollution and Asthma

Top 10 Countries for Car Pollution and Asthma

Figure 3: Top 10 Countries for Car Pollution and Asthma. Countries in the Middle East dominate the list of top countries with pollution-driven asthma. These data were based on measurements of Nitrogen Dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, and a statistical model relating Nitrogen Dioxide with asthma.

On a country-wide level, Middle Eastern countries generally have higher levels of pollution-driven asthma. While South American cities are some of the most polluted cities, they rank relatively lower as countries.

Source: Global, national, and urban burdens of paediatric asthma incidence attributable to ambient NO2 pollution: estimates from global datasets

Key Takeaways

If you want to reduce you or your family's exposure to asthma-causing air pollution, consider moving away from major roadways and cities. As shown by this data, cities tend to have much higher incidences of air pollution related asthma.

While fully transitioning to electric vehicles would most likely solve our nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide issues, this may will not happen within the next decade.

On a government level, air pollution can be reduced through better emissions standards. Governments around the world have made significant progress in raising emissions standards. However, we still have a lot further to go, as shown by this data.

Several global organizations have put out statement sounding the alarm on air pollution and its detrimental effects on health:

The health effects of air pollution are serious – one third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution. This is having an equivalent effect to that of smoking tobacco, and much higher than, say, the effects of eating too much salt.

WHO

How air pollution is destroying our health

Air pollution is the single biggest environmental health risk, causing roughly 7 million deaths annually. Short-lived pollutants – which include black carbon, methane, ozone, and airborne particles produced by industrial operations and the burning of diesel, coal, kerosene or biomass – are responsible for about one third of deaths from stroke, chronic respiratory disease and lung cancer and one quarter of deaths from heart attack. These pollutants are also contributing to global warming, lowering labour productivity, and increasing food insecurity around the world.

UN Environment Assembly

Dimensions of Pollution: Air

Methods

Researchers created these estimates through building statistical models and applying these models to several data sets.

Using a statistical model, researchers were able to estimate new asthma cases from on air pollution.

They then used a dataset of NO2 air concentrations to estimate cases of asthma in each country and cities.

Researchers used data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation to estimate total asthma rates, in order to compare air pollution asthma to total asthma cases in each location.