HealthDay News — Combustion-related nitrogen dioxide (NO2) accounted for 1.85 million new pediatric asthma cases worldwide in 2019, according to a study published online Jan. 5 in The Lancet Planetary Health.

Susan C. Anenberg, Ph.D., from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues estimated NO2-attributable pediatric asthma incidence by scaling an existing annual average NO2 concentration dataset for 2010 to 2012 from a land use regression model to other years using NO2 column densities from satellite and reanalysis datasets and applying these concentrations to population and baseline asthma rates.

The researchers estimated that in 2019, 1.85 million new pediatric asthma cases were attributable to NO2 globally; two-thirds of these occurred in urban areas (1.22 million cases). From 2000 to 2019, there was a decrease observed in the proportion of pediatric asthma incidence that was attributable to NO2 in urban areas, from 19.8 to 16.0 percent of cases. Urban attributable fractions decreased in high-income countries; Latin America and the Caribbean; Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia; and Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania (−41, −16, −13, and −6 percent, respectively), while there were increases in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and North Africa and the Middle East (+23, +11, and +5 percent, respectively).

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“In places that have effective air quality management programs, NO2 concentrations have been trending downward for decades, with benefits for children’s respiratory health,” Anenberg said in a statement. “Even with these improvements, current NO2 levels contribute substantially to pediatric asthma incidence, highlighting that mitigating air pollution should be a critical element of children’s public health strategies.”

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