Health

Long-term Effects Of Air Pollution On Children

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The negative effects of air pollution are fairly well understood by the majority of people in the community. As an adult, you can accommodate your actions to reduce your exposure to poor air quality. You can adjust your living situation to improve the air quality of your home. Or you can choose to live with the consequences of the poor air quality in your home or workplace. But children don’t have the understanding about air quality that is necessary in order to change their behaviors. Children generally don’t have control over their living conditions. If the quality of the air around them is full of naturally-occurring or manmade contaminants, there is basically nothing that the child can do about it.

And yet, children belong to one of the groups most seriously affected by inadequate or poor air quality. Children’s bodies are still developing. Their lungs are growing and experiencing changes. Children typically play hard, exert themselves more and inhale a greater percentage of air pollution when exposed to poor air quality.

Negative Effects Suffered by Children

  • Damage to the lungs often occurs when a child has been exposed to high levels of ozone, especially during the peak hours during the summer. This damage may be able to reverse itself if the exposure to ozone is eliminated. But there is reason to believe that prolonged or repeated exposure can lead to permanent damage, such as accelerated aging.
  • Children with asthma may, and commonly do, suffer from more respiratory symptoms when they have been exposed to air pollutants. Those same children have shown fewer asthmatic symptoms when the air quality has been improved. Asthma is a condition that is treated by maintenance and so any disruption of that regimen may create more serious problems.
  • Babies who were exposed to cigarette smoke or carbon monoxide while in the womb tend to have a lower birth-weight. Babies who experienced that exposure when organs were developing may have experienced permanent changes in those organs.
  • Reports from the American Thoracic Society have shown that children’s exposure to particulate pollution are responsible for hospitalizations, school absences, decreased peak flow rates and greater uses of medication for children with asthma.
  • The presence of lead has been linked to lowered intelligence and decreases in perceptual-motor skills. Children (and adults) may also suffer from kidney damage.
  • Exposure to very high levels of certain pollutants may lead to the formation of cancer.

What Can You Do To Protect the Health of Your Children?

Because children are often exposed to higher levels of environmental pollutants when they are at play outside, you can try to schedule outdoor time when air quality is at its best. You may try to decrease the amount of exertion that is being used when levels of air pollutants are high.

In your own home, you will have greater control. Finding the sources of air pollutants within your home is the first step; decreasing and controlling those pollutants will be the next. If someone is smoking, maybe they can smoke outside or open the windows to ventilate. If there are pets in the home or chemicals that seem to affect the children, those things might be removed or replaced. Increasing ventilation, when outside air is of a high quality, can also be an effective way to improve the air quality within the home. Installing air purifiers in areas of the home where the children spend the most time may also be an effective way to improve the health of the children. As adults, it is our responsibility to protect the health of the children in our care.

Lauren Hill

Lauren is currently a full time freelance writer who enjoys writing about an array of topics ranging from parenting and cooking to business and home improvement.

http://www.laurenqhill.com/

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