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Study finds babies in strollers, regardless of type, exposed to up to 44% higher fine particle concentrations than adults

Researchers from Surrey’s Global Center for Clean Air Research (GCARE) in the UK have investigated the amount of harmful air pollutants babies potentially inhale while out in a stroller with their parents or caretakers.

The study looked at three different stroller types—single facing the road, single facing the adult and double facing the road—and assessed the difference in concentration of pollutants compared to those experienced by the adults pushing the strollers. The GCARE team also investigated whether stroller covers altered exposure levels. An open-access paper on their work is published in Environment International.

The team simulated 89 school drop off and pick up trips in Guildford, Surrey, walking just over 2km, between the times of 8am to 10am and 3pm to 5pm.

The team found that on average, regardless of the type of stroller, babies could be breathing 44% more harmful pollutants than their parents during both morning and afternoon school runs. The GCARE team also found that a child at the bottom of a double stroller faced up to 72% higher exposure to pollutants than a child on the top seat.


In-stroller (pram) baby versus adult exposure concentrations (scenario average) in single and double stroller for (a) morning PNC concentration; and (b) afternoon time PNC concentration. Sharma and Kumar (2020)

Scanning electron microscope (SEM) analysis of PM2.5–10 revealed traces of brake wear, tire wear and re-suspended dust minerals with the predominance of brake and tire wear emissions at baby height compared with a relatively larger share of earth crust elements at adult height.

There was substantial variability in measured concentrations of different pollutants within each run (e.g., up to 290-times for PNC) and between different runs performed during different times of the day (e.g., ~62% variability in average PNC; ~7% for PM1 and 8% for PM2.5 during morning versus afternoon).

However, the Surrey team also found that stroller covers reduced concentration of small-sized particles by as much as 39% (fine particles) and 43% (coarse particles).

Our results reinforce the need for mitigating exposures to in-pram babies, especially at urban pollution hotspots such as busy congested roads, bus stops, and traffic intersections.

—Sharma and Kumar


  • Sharma, A., Kumar, P., (2020) “Quantification of air pollution exposure to in-pram babies and mitigation strategies.” Environment International. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2020.105671


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