Impacts of air pollution on pediatric respiratory infections under a changing climate in Kenyan urban cities

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Emmanuel Yussuf
John Nzioka Muthama
Bethwel Mutai
Diana Mwendwa Marangu


climate change, air pollution, respiratory health, greenhouse gases, pediatrics, minimum temperature


Atmospheric pollutants appear to contribute much in respiratory infections, where they have an effect on spreading viruses and bacteria, while affecting children partly due to their small nature and still undeveloped respiratory systems. This study aimed to assess the impacts of air pollution on pediatric respiratory infections under a changing climate in Mombasa, Nakuru, and Nairobi cities. Air pollutants and climate data used for this study were obtained from Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), ranging from 1990 to 2020. Pediatric lower respiratory data was obtained from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) ranging from 0 to 14 years for periods of 1990 to 2019 for the three towns. Mann-Kendall test and multiple regression analysis were applied to find the relationship between air pollutants and respiratory infections. The study found out that air pollutants: PM2.5, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and tropospheric ozone were increasing in all three cities. Minimum temperature was also found to be increasing, while precipitation increased in all cities except Mombasa where it shown a steady decline. Morbidity and mortality cases showed a decline from 2010 onwards for children below 4 years, while the numbers increased for children above 5 years. PM2.5, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide had a direct impact on lower pediatric respiratory infections in all towns. As such, these respiratory infections are then expected to rise under which the influence of climate change through enhancing its spread and dispersion in various areas. Seasonal variation of climate variables will also have an impact on lower pediatric respiratory infections, increasing and decreasing their cases annually. These findings are important for strengthening policies in health, transport, and industrial sectors, and further contributing to the reduction of pollution effects on children who are the most vulnerable in the population.

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