London - Air pollution significantly raises the risk of babies dying in their first year, a major study has found.
A project tracking nearly eight million infants born in England and Wales found that exposure to chemicals in the air drove up the risk of death by up to 50 percent.
The sooty particulates and nitrogen dioxide pumped out by traffic and sulphur dioxide from industrial emissions are each linked to an increase in risk, researchers from Cardiff University found.
Experts have long warned that air pollution poses a risk to health. But the new research, to be presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Madrid on Sunday, contains some of the starkest findings yet of the extent of that harm.
The study found that three air pollutants – particulate matter known as PM10, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide – separately and in combination are associated with a 20 to 50 percent increased risk of death for babies born in the most polluted areas.