Two recent medical studies have highlighted links between air pollution and cot deaths and childhood asthma.
Research published by BMJ Open looked at more than 200 cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) - the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of apparently healthy babies often called cot death - in the West Midlands between 1996 and 2006.
The study looked at levels of air pollution in the babies' postcodes the day before a SIDS death compared with levels on other days.
The paper states: 'We found evidence suggesting association of SIDS mortality with PM10 and NO2 exposure. Compared with other pollutants, their effects persisted after controlling for co-pollutants and across the various lag structures investigated....Thus, future studies are recommended to understand possible mechanistic explanations on the role of air pollution on SIDS incidence and the ways in which we might reduce pollution exposure among infants.'
These pollutants are linked to road traffic fumes.
It adds: 'SIDS counts and pollution levels tended to be larger in highly deprived areas and near motorways and A-road networks which may be a reflection of population density.'
The researchers said: 'Until policy reflects the growing evidence and responds to mounting public concern, it would appear to be the responsibility of individuals to take independent action to mitigate the effects of air pollution and protect the health of their young ones.'
Another study analysed the impact of 'air quality events' or periods of high pollution using emergency department (ED) syndromic surveillance from England and France.
It found: 'Almost 1.5 million ED attendances were recorded during the study period (27 February 2014 to 1 October 2014). Significant increases in ED attendances for asthma were identified around periods of poor AQ in both cities, especially in children (aged 0–14 years). Some variation was seen in Paris with a rapid increase during the first AQ period in asthma attendances among children (aged 0–14 years), whereas during the second period the increase was greater in adults.'