A number of children at Vauxhall have been taking part in the Children's Health in London and Luton (CHILL) study which looks at the effects of air pollution. The researchers have been continuing to look at the data during lock down and have produced the following update:
We would like to begin by saying a massive thank you from all of us at CHILL. The study is a huge undertaking, with 85 schools across Luton, Dunstable, and central London, and a total of 3313 children taking part. It is only through your dedicated participation and support that we have been able to effectively build this network and carry out our research.
We really appreciate the effort involved on your part to get our visits scheduled, and to make them run smoothly. Thanks to your continued assistance and enthusiasm we have had an overwhelmingly positive experience at our visits, and we hope you feel the same way.
Meeting all the children and staff at our participating schools has been an absolute pleasure. It has been wonderful this year to meet the children for a second time, to see how much they have grown and to see how much they have remembered from their first visit! Our school visits aim to be about much more than just collecting data, so it has been delightful to see how much the children have engaged with the project.
We are looking forward to seeing you all again as soon as possible and are keen to maintain a collaborative relationship with all our schools over the coming months and years, so please keep in touch!
Feedback on Data
The CHILL teams have been working from home since March and have used this time to look at the data that we have collected so far. We will shortly be forwarding an infographic poster to all our schools to let the children and their parents know what we have learnt about how much they have grown, how big their lungs are, and how active they are. We hope this will create some talking points for them and let them know what an important contribution they are making to air pollution research.
Despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19, the CHILL study will continue, and we look forward to working with you to resume our school visits once it is safe to do so.
Our first priority is the safety of children and staff at schools, as well as that of our data collection teams. We are currently considering ways to modify our activities so as to minimise any risk of exposure. We hope you agree that it is important for the CHILL study to continue as much as possible through the COVID-19 pandemic as air pollution remains a significant problem throughout the UK. In addition, there is growing evidence of a link between air pollution exposure and an increased incidence of COVID-19 infections and deaths, which we feel adds to the urgency of our research.
COVID-19 has also brought some unexpected opportunities:
- Lockdown has led to some significant (but short term) changes in air pollution and we will be able to assess the impact of these on children’s health.
- COVID-19 infection may alter the way pollution affects children’s lung growth. The data we have collected in CHILL provides an ideal platform to assess this, and we are currently looking into how this could be done.
- Our Science Outreach Sessions will this year look at how infection and pollution can together affect our health.
COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on our lives and if there is any way that we can contribute to the understanding, treatment, or prevention of this disease, then we would wish to do so.
While we would like to continue with our school visits as soon as possible, we fully appreciate that this is a very difficult time for our schools and that the immediate future is not clear. We therefore hope to keep in close contact with all of you so that we can work together to decide the safest approach to continuing with our research.
Thank you for your continued commitment to the CHILL study. We look forward to seeing you again soon, and we hope you all enjoy a well-deserved rest over the summer!