(Photo Credit: LUNAMARINA)

New City Hall analysis shows a sharp increase in children admitted to hospitals with asthma: they are 64 per cent more than last year. 

More than 3645 children have been hospitalised with asthma this year.

New City Hall analysis commissioned by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan revealed that they are nearly two-thirds more than last year, when Covid and lower pollution levels resulted in fewer admissions.

As the Clinical Director for CYP Transformation Dr. Oliver Anglin explains, toxic air caused by traffic can lead to children growing up with stunted lungs and developing health problems such as asthma.

Dr. Oliver Anglin said: “New City Hall analysis has shown that air pollution is the first factor that contributes to deprivation as a risk factor for asthma, followed by other causes such as poor quality housing, second hand smoke exposure and diet and obesity”.

So it’s not a case, if the Mayor of London’s six-month report of last July showed that the capital’s air had never been so polluted since the start of the pandemic.

In its research, New City Hall has also added that around half of hospital admissions for asthma occurred in children from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

White children hospitalised with the same pathology were only 28 per cent.

Dr. Oliver Anglin explained: “Children and young people living in areas where there are higher levels of deprivation are more likely to be exposed to causes and triggers of asthma”.

And again, not a coincidence if the six-month report of last July showed that the concentration of nitrogen dioxide is higher in areas where Minority Ethnic Londoners were most likely to live.

Furthermore, all schools and colleges in outer London are in areas which still exceed recommended air quality targets set by the World Health Organization.

The report says: “These results mean that the health impacts of pollution fall disproportionately on certain communities, affecting the poorest, the youngest and those with pre-existing health conditions”.

In his opening statement at Mayor’s Question Time on November 17, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, spoke about his actions to clean up the air.

“It’s unacceptable. We have already cut the levels of pollution in central London by half and we must continue this progress, because every Londoner has the right to breathe clean air”.

The improvement of air quality has been a key priority for the Mayor since 2016.

To fight air pollution in April 2019 Sadiq Khan launched the world’s first 24-hour Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London.

The ULEZ prevents most vehicles from crossing the area 24/7, subject to a £ 12.50 daily charge to drive inside the zone.

The Ultra-Low Emission Zone is now 18 times the size of the original area covering 4 million people, and from August it will be expanded across the entire capital, as announced on November 25.

The ULEZ operates in conjunction with the London-wide Low Emission Zone (LEZ) launched in 2008, which applies to large and heavy vehicles.

In recent years the awareness about the link between people’s health and air pollution has increased thanks to the job of companies and volunteers.

Amongst them there is Mum for Lungs, a network of campaigners which is trying to make parents more aware of the very high risk that air pollution poses to their children’s health.

Ruth Fitzharris works for Mum for Lungs, but she is even before a mum who does everything she can to protect her son and to make him live in a cleaner and better city.

She said: “My son started to have terrible asthma attacks in 2016; he had 7 only during the summer. Witnessing your son’s impossibility to breathe and can’t do anything for him is terrible, shocking, a feeling which you can’t explain”.

From similar motivations and concerns in 2017 Jemima Hartshorn founded Mums for Lungs.

Ruth added: “I became aware of this situation just being in hospitals so frequently. I started to avoid going to a lot of places with my son, but you can’t escape forever, because the problem is in the air we breathe”.

Ruth’s son in the hospital after an asthma attack

Ruth concluded: “The awareness of air pollution and its risks have grown over the years, but this is insufficient. The key message is that children need to breathe clean air. This must be an urgent propriety if we are to give them a chance at growing up healthily and happily in our city”.