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Fossil fuel combustion is partly to blame for increased childhood asthma, according to a report published by Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment. But the resulting air pollution is just part of the problem. Increasing temperatures encourage growth of moulds and fungi, and higher carbon dioxide levels stimulate plants to produce more pollen earlier in the year.

Childhood asthma in the United States rose by 160 per cent between 1980 and 1994. Inner city children are at special risk as diesel particles are particularly effective at delivering pollen to immune cells in the lungs, according to the report, called Inside the Greenhouse.

The report advocates local initiatives, such as tree-planting and improved public transport, to reduce greenhouse gases.

Link to the full news story in The Lancet*

Link to the full report Inside the Greenhouse: The Impacts of CO2 and Climate Change on Public Health in the Inner City

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