Birth Weights

Traffic Pollution May Affect Birth Weights

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science recently published a study that showed the connection between birth weights and traffic jams. According to their research, pregnant women who lived in heavily congested areas had babies with lower birth weights. Mothers who lived in less congested or traffic-free neighbourhoods had babies with normal birth weights.

Babies with low birth weights are vulnerable and can develop dangerous health complications, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and various infections. Some studies have also proven that air pollution can negatively impact an infant’s respiratory and neurological systems.

Researchers first studied the birth rate-traffic congestion link between the years 2015 and 2016. They looked at over 579,000 births that were registered to addresses in Texas. They gathered the information they needed using GPS-equipped cell phones. The researchers then utilised aggregate data from the mobile gadgets and compared the information along with the birth certificates of the babies born in the period covered.

Boston University assistant professor of epidemiology Mary Willis shared that babies born to mothers in congested neighbourhoods weighed at least nine grams lighter than those whose mothers lived in areas with little traffic. Data was the same regardless of environmental exposures and socioeconomic factors. Although nine grams is not that big a difference, the difference is alarming, especially since research findings have been quite consistent.

In the US alone, it is estimated that around 1.2 million pregnancies every year can be affected by traffic congestion. Millions of Americans live near major highways, so they are exposed to high levels of toxic air. Emissions increase to at least 200% during rush hour. Pollutants increase in quantities as well.

Traffic congestion exposes travellers and neighbourhoods to vehicle emissions, specifically nitrogen oxide or NOx, which has life-changing health impacts. Road pollution comes from two sources: tailpipes and brakes and tires subjected to wear and tear. Tailpipes emit toxic fumes while broken bits and pieces from brakes, tire equipment, and road dust, turn into particulate pollution.

Traffic congestion is not an isolated issue; it is a global problem. As such, governments are now finding ways to incorporate policies and programmes that can effectively and efficiently address the situation. Authorities have also been busy dealing with carmakers involved in the diesel emissions scandal.

What is the diesel emission scandal about?

The diesel emissions scandal first emerged in September 2015 when the Volkswagen Group received a notice from US authorities that illegal defeat devices were found in VW and Audi diesel vehicles sold in the American market.

Defeat devices are designed to detect when a vehicle is in the lab for regulatory testing. The devices manipulate emissions levels by bringing them down to within the legal limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). This happens every time a vehicle they’re installed in is subjected to an emissions test.

To regulators, the vehicles appear to follow emissions regulations. In reality, though, the devices hide the vehicles’ real emission levels. So, when a defeat device-equipped vehicle is brought out of the lab and driven on real roads, it emits vast amounts of NOx. As such, the VW and Audi vehicles sold to US drivers were all pollutants. Volkswagen lied to its customers.

Authorities required VW to recall affected vehicles. The carmaker has spent billions paying off fines, settlement fees, and legal costs.

The incident became known as the Dieselgate scandal and soon involved other carmakers, including popular brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Vauxhall. Mercedes got implicated a few years after the VW scandal, and BMW followed years later. The Vauxhall emissions scandal is fairly new, as allegations and claims surfaced only in 2021.

To ensure that VW, Mercedes, BMW, Vauxhall, and other involved carmakers are held responsible for their deceitful actions, affected car owners are encouraged to bring a claim against them. An emissions claim will compensate the drivers for all the inconveniences they had to go through as a result of the installation of defeat devices in their vehicles.

What are these inconveniences?

Defeat devices expose car owners, the people around them, and the environment to toxic air.

Nitrogen oxide is a highly polluting group of gases and has nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as its main components. NO2 alone already has devastating health and environmental impacts. When NOx reacts with other elements, it produces acid rain, smog, and ground-level ozone.

Ground-level ozone is a pollutant that can destroy ecosystems. Plants and crops become weak; their growth is stunted and they become vulnerable to frost and damage.

Exposure to NOx emissions also affects your cognitive abilities. This will increase your risk of developing dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease. Increased episodes of depression and anxiety are also possible.

If you’re regularly exposed to nitrogen oxide, expect the following health conditions to bother you:

  • Asthma
  • Breathing problems
  • Lung problems
  • Asphyxiation
  • Vocal cords spasm (laryngospasm)
  • Bronchitis, emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses
  • Cardiovascular disease

Numerous studies and reports have also shown a link between air pollution and premature death.

These impacts, along with your carmaker’s deceitful act, are more than just inconveniences. They can change your life in ways you never imagined. So, it is your right to bring a claim against them.

Verify your right to claim

Before making a diesel claim, you have to verify if you’re qualified to make one first. Get in touch with Emissions.co.uk or visit their website to find out what you need to do.

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