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Air_pollution_main report_WEB

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Key facts • As the levels of air pollution increase, so does the harmful effect on lung function. ° Children living in highly polluted areas are four times more likely to have reduced lung function in adulthood. Improving air quality for children has been shown to halt and reverse this effect. ° For older people, living near a busy road speeds up the rate of lung function decline that is associated with ageing. • Young children who live in polluted areas have more coughs and wheezes. • The evidence is so convincing that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified air pollution as a known cause of lung cancer. This condition is thought to take many years to develop. Therefore, exposure in childhood could be linked to lung cancer in adults. • Exposure to air pollution may affect mental and physical development in children, and thinking skills (cognition) in older people. • Over the long term, breathing air pollution is linked to the development of cardiovascular disease in adults, including atherosclerosis (furring of the arteries). Once people have a heart condition, spikes in air pollution can make their symptoms worse, leading to more hospital admissions and deaths. © Royal College of Physicians 2016 51 4 Summary

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