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Special Issue "Children, Air Pollution and the Outdoor Urban Environment"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kim Natasha Dirks

School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
Website | E-Mail
Interests: environmental physics, air pollution modelling, air pollution exposure, the impact of climate on health, environmental noise

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

There are many sources of air pollution in urban environments with motors vehicles being a significant source. Such pollutants are of concern due to both the acute and chronic health effects associated with their exposure. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution due to their underdeveloped respiratory systems. Their patterns of exposure are also significantly different from those of adults due to the activities in which they engage and the increased time often spent outdoors.

Although much is known about urban air pollution exposure generally across the population, there are many questions that remain unanswered, especially with respect to children’s exposure. For example, little is known about the influence of socio-economic factors and the impact these have on children’s exposure, and how children’s exposures differ from those of adults living in the same household. Also, the ways children travel to and from school has an impact on their air pollution exposure, as does the location of urban playgrounds in relation to air pollution. This special issue of IJERPH called “Children, Air Pollution and the Outdoor Urban Environment” will help improve our understanding of factors leading to air pollution exposures relating specifically to children.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kim Natasha Dirks
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Children
  • Air Pollution Exposure
  • Travel Modes
  • Traffic
  • Health Effects
  • Respiratory Health
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Urban Planning

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Provision of Convenient Play Space in a Densely Populated City
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(4), 651; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16040651
Received: 19 January 2019 / Revised: 16 February 2019 / Accepted: 17 February 2019 / Published: 22 February 2019
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Abstract
The focus of this study is on examining sufficiency and quality of play space in a densely populated city from the spatial perspective. The study employed a three-stage multilevel mixed-method design using spatial analysis, user questionnaire, and site surveys. Provision of play space [...] Read more.
The focus of this study is on examining sufficiency and quality of play space in a densely populated city from the spatial perspective. The study employed a three-stage multilevel mixed-method design using spatial analysis, user questionnaire, and site surveys. Provision of play space was assessed based on location, user perception, and proximity to residential areas and roads. The spatial distribution of play space was mapped and examined by applying GIS-based multicriteria analysis. Without considering play space provided by private housing estates, the study found a mismatch between children population and location of play space. The study also identified stair, slope, and sidewalk conditions as key issues of accessibility to selected playgrounds, even in districts with sufficient play space. Kowloon has limited play space of which a high percentage is inferior in terms of safety and pollution standards. Spatial analysis can help inform optimal locations for play space. Future studies should be based on more well-rounded and complete data to advise urban planning. Additionally, policy makers should focus more on quality standards of play space (i.e., openness, absence of pollution, attraction, safety, etc.) when planning as opposed to simply meeting the minimum area per person quota for open space. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children, Air Pollution and the Outdoor Urban Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
The Short-Term Effects of Ambient Air Pollutants on Childhood Asthma Hospitalization in Taiwan: A National Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(2), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16020203
Received: 20 November 2018 / Revised: 5 January 2019 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 12 January 2019
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Abstract
This investigation determined the effects of air pollution on childhood asthma hospitalization in regions with differing air pollution levels in Taiwan over a long time period. Data of childhood hospital admissions for asthma in patients aged 0–18 years and air quality in eight [...] Read more.
This investigation determined the effects of air pollution on childhood asthma hospitalization in regions with differing air pollution levels in Taiwan over a long time period. Data of childhood hospital admissions for asthma in patients aged 0–18 years and air quality in eight regions for the period 2001–2012 in Taiwan were collected. Poisson generalized linear regression analysis was employed to identify the relative risks of hospitalization due to asthma in children associated with exposure to varying levels of air pollutants with a change in the interquartile range after adjusting for temperature and relative humidity. Particulate matter ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5), particulate matter ≤10 μm (PM10), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), were positively associated with childhood asthma hospitalization, while O3 was negatively associated with childhood asthma hospitalization. SO2 was identified as the most significant risk factor. The relative risks for asthma hospitalization associated with air pollutants were higher among children aged 0–5 years than aged 6–18 years and were higher among males than females. The effects of air pollution on childhood asthma were greater in the higher-level air pollution regions, while no association was observed in the lower-level air pollution regions. These findings may prove important for policymakers involved in implementing policies to reduce air pollution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children, Air Pollution and the Outdoor Urban Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Air Pollution Exposure in Walking School Bus Routes: A New Zealand Case Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(12), 2802; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15122802
Received: 3 November 2018 / Revised: 6 December 2018 / Accepted: 7 December 2018 / Published: 10 December 2018
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Abstract
Walking School Buses (WSBs), organized groups for children to walk to school under the supervision of adults, help reduce traffic congestion and contribute towards exercise. Routes are based largely on need, traffic safety and travel time, with exposure to air pollution not generally [...] Read more.
Walking School Buses (WSBs), organized groups for children to walk to school under the supervision of adults, help reduce traffic congestion and contribute towards exercise. Routes are based largely on need, traffic safety and travel time, with exposure to air pollution not generally considered. This paper explores whether reductions in exposure can be achieved based on the side of the road travelled using data collected in Auckland, New Zealand. Exposure to air pollution was measured for a 25-min commute consisting of a 10-min segment along a quiet cul-de-sac and a 15-min segment along a main arterial road with traffic congestion heavier in one direction. Two participants were each equipped with a portable P-Trak ultrafine particle monitor and a portable Langan carbon monoxide monitor, and walked the route on opposite sides of the road simultaneously, for both morning and afternoon, logging 10-s data. The results suggest that pedestrians travelling on the footpath next to the less congested side of the road in the morning avoid many short-term peaks in concentration and experience significantly lower mean exposures than those travelling on the footpath next to the more congested side. Significant reductions in air pollution exposure could be made for children by taking into account the side of the road in WSB route design. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children, Air Pollution and the Outdoor Urban Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Pollution Level and Health Risk Assessment of PM2.5-Bound Metals in Baoding City Before and After the Heating Period
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2286; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102286
Received: 14 August 2018 / Revised: 30 September 2018 / Accepted: 15 October 2018 / Published: 18 October 2018
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Abstract
In order to assess the pollution levels and health risks of PM2.5-bound metals in Baoding City before and after the heating period, samples were collected in 2016 at Hebei University from September 25th to November 14th during the non-heating period, and [...] Read more.
In order to assess the pollution levels and health risks of PM2.5-bound metals in Baoding City before and after the heating period, samples were collected in 2016 at Hebei University from September 25th to November 14th during the non-heating period, and November 15th to December 26th during the heating period, respectively. ICP-MS was applied to analyze seven heavy metals (Cr, Zn, Cu, Pb, Ni, Cd and Fe). The statistical analysis, enrichment factor (EF), pollution load index method, and Risk Assessment Method proposed by U.S. EPA were used to evaluate the non-carcinogenic risks of six of these heavy metals (Cr, Zn, Cu, Pb, Ni and Cd) and carcinogenic risks of three of these heavy metals (Cr, Ni and Cd). The results showed three main results. First, the average daily PM2.5 concentrations of the national air monitoring stations was 155.66 μg·m−3 which was 2.08 times as high as that of the second level criterion in China (75 μg·m−3) during the observation period. Compared with the non-heating period, all heavy metals concentrations increased during heating period. The growth rates of Pb and Ni were the highest and the lowest, which were 88.03 and 5.11 percent, respectively. Second, the results of enrichment factor indicated that the EF values of all heavy metals were higher during the heating period in comparison with during the non-heating period, but the degree of enrichment of all heavy metals remained unchanged. Not only those, Cr and Ni were minimally enriched and were affected by both human and natural factors, Pb, Cu and Zn were significantly enriched and were mainly affected by human factors, the enrichment of Cd was much higher than that of the other heavy metals, exhibiting extremely high enrichment, mainly due to human factors during the whole sampling period. The results of the pollution load index indicated that the proportions of the number of highly and very highly polluted PM2.5-bound metals were the highest during the heating period, while the proportion of moderately polluted PM2.5-bound metals was the highest during the non-heating period. The combined pollution degree of heavy metals was more serious during the heating period. Third, according to the health risk assessment model, we concluded that the non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks caused by inhalation exposure were the highest and by dermal exposure were the lowest for all kinds of people. The overall non-carcinogenic risk of heavy metals via inhalation and subsequent ingestion exposure caused significant harm to children during the non-heating and the heating periods, and the risk values were 2.64, 4.47, 1.20 and 1.47, respectively. Pb and Cr exhibited the biggest contributions to the non-carcinogenic risk. All the above non-carcinogenic risks exceeded the standard limits suggested by EPA (HI or HQ < 1). The carcinogenic risk via inhalation exposure to children, adult men and women were 2.10 × 10−4, 1.80 × 10−4, and 1.03 × 10−4 during the non-heating period, respectively, and 2.52 × 10−4, 2.16 × 10−4 and 1.23 × 10−4 during the heating period, respectively. All the above carcinogenic risks exceeded the threshold ranges (10−6~10−4), and Cr posed a carcinogenic risk to all people. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children, Air Pollution and the Outdoor Urban Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Small-Scale Variations in Urban Air Pollution Levels Are Significantly Associated with Premature Births: A Case Study in São Paulo, Brazil
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2236; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102236
Received: 10 August 2018 / Revised: 5 October 2018 / Accepted: 5 October 2018 / Published: 12 October 2018
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Abstract
Premature birth is the result of a complex interaction among genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, socioeconomic, and environmental factors. We evaluated the possible associations between air pollution and the incidence of prematurity in spatial clusters of high and low prevalence in the municipality of São [...] Read more.
Premature birth is the result of a complex interaction among genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, socioeconomic, and environmental factors. We evaluated the possible associations between air pollution and the incidence of prematurity in spatial clusters of high and low prevalence in the municipality of São Paulo. It is a spatial case-control study. The residential addresses of mothers with live births that occurred in 2012 and 2013 were geo-coded. A spatial scan statistical test performed to identify possible low-prevalence and high-prevalence clusters of premature births. After identifying, the spatial clusters were drawn samples of cases and controls in each cluster. Mothers were interviewed face-to-face using questionnaires. Air pollution exposure was assessed by passive tubes (NO2 and O3) as well as by the determination of trace elements’ concentration in tree bark. Binary logistic regression models were applied to determine the significance of the risk of premature birth. Later prenatal care, urinary infection, and hypertension were individual risk factors for prematurity. Particles produced by traffic emissions (estimated by tree bark accumulation) and photochemical pollutants involved in the photochemical cycle (estimated by O3 and NO2 passive tubes) also exhibited significant and robust risks for premature births. The results indicate that air pollution is an independent risk factor for prematurity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children, Air Pollution and the Outdoor Urban Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
The Theory of Planned Behavior to Predict Protective Behavioral Intentions against PM2.5 in Parents of Young Children from Urban and Rural Beijing, China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2215; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102215
Received: 18 September 2018 / Revised: 3 October 2018 / Accepted: 7 October 2018 / Published: 10 October 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2876 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Smog and air pollution have fast become significant environmental problems and are attributed to rapid global industrialization and urbanization. Emissions of fine particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5) increase smog and air pollution, with strong impacts on human health. [...] Read more.
Smog and air pollution have fast become significant environmental problems and are attributed to rapid global industrialization and urbanization. Emissions of fine particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5) increase smog and air pollution, with strong impacts on human health. Children are particularly vulnerable. While increasing studies are being conducted on the behaviors leading to PM2.5 toxicity from the perspective of environmental toxicants, there is a lack of research on factors influencing anti-PM2.5 behavioral intentions. Thus, this study aims to narrow this gap by adapting the theory of planned behavior framework to investigate the effects of attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control on protective behavioral intentions against PM2.5. In total, 1277 online questionnaires were collected from parents of young children living in urban and rural areas of Beijing, and the data was analyzed using correlation, regression, and path analyses. Results revealed that there were significant differences between parents from urban and rural areas in terms of attitude (t = 4.727 > 1.96, p < 0.001), subjective norms (t = 5.529 > 1.96, p < 0.001), perceived behavioral control (t = 6.155 > 1.96, p < 0.001), and anti-PM2.5 behavioral intentions (t = 6.838 > 1.96, p < 0.001). Path analysis revealed that parents from urban and rural areas had different behavioral intention paths. For urban parents, the findings indicated that subjective norms (β = 0.73, t = 21.84 > 3.29) and perceived behavioral control (γ = 0.22, t = 6.12 > 3.29) had direct impacts on anti-PM2.5 behavioral intentions. In contrast, the attitudes (γ = 0.39, t = 3.74 > 3.29) and subjective norms (β = 0.60, t = 8.55 > 3.29) of rural parents were found to directly influence anti-PM2.5 behavioral intentions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children, Air Pollution and the Outdoor Urban Environment)
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Open AccessArticle
Spatiotemporal Changes in PM2.5 and Their Relationships with Land-Use and People in Hangzhou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2192; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102192
Received: 1 August 2018 / Revised: 26 September 2018 / Accepted: 27 September 2018 / Published: 8 October 2018
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Abstract
Increases in the extent and level of air pollution in Chinese cities have become a major concern of the public and burden on the government. While ample literature has focused on the status, changes and causes of air pollution (particularly on PM2.5 [...] Read more.
Increases in the extent and level of air pollution in Chinese cities have become a major concern of the public and burden on the government. While ample literature has focused on the status, changes and causes of air pollution (particularly on PM2.5 and PM10), significantly less is known on their effects on people. In this study we used Hangzhou, China, as our testbed to assess the direct impact of PM2.5 on youth populations that are more vulnerable to pollution. We used the ground monitoring data of air quality and Aerosol optical thickness (AOT) product from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) for the spatiotemporal changes of PM2.5 by season in 2015. We further explored these distributions with land cover, population density and schools (kindergarten, primary school and middle school) to explore the potential impacts in seeking potential mitigation solutions. We found that the seasonal variation of PM2.5 concentration was winter > spring > autumn > summer. In Hangzhou, the percentage of land area exposed to PM2.5 > 50 µg m−3 accounted for 59.86% in winter, 56.62% in spring, 40.44% in autumn and 0% in summer, whereas these figures for PM2.5 of <35 µg m−3 were 70.01%, 5.28%, 5.17%, 4.16% in summer, winter, autumn and spring, respectively. As for land cover, forest experienced PM2.5 of 35–50 µg m−3 (i.e., lower than those of other cover types), likely due to the potential filtering and absorption function of the forests. More importantly, a quantitative index based on population-weighted exposure level (pwel) indicated that only 9.06% of the population lived in areas that met the national air quality standards. Only 1.66% (14,055) of infants and juveniles lived in areas with PM2.5 of <35 µg m−3. Considering the legacy effects of PM2.5 over the long-term, we highly recommend improving the monitoring systems for both air quality and people (i.e., their health conditions), with special attention paid to infants and juveniles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children, Air Pollution and the Outdoor Urban Environment)
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