Air pollution is caused due to emission of harmful substances as harmful gases, toxins volatile organic compounds, particulates, etc. from myriad sources.
It is one of the deadliest risk factors for illness as well as death in modern times. While exposure to contaminated air has a devastating impact on the health of people of all age groups, children are more susceptible to its ill effects. According to data released by the World Health Organization, pollution has contributed to respiratory tract infection among 11,78,000 children.
Both ambient and household pollution are equally dangerous. Ambient or outdoor pollution is usually caused by the combustion of fossil fuels, agricultural and industrial ammonia production, waste incineration, mining, and natural disasters as bushfire, forest fire, volcanic eruption, and dust storms. While household or indoor pollution is induced by the burning of solid fuels that are used for cooking purposes or lightning purposes, a volatile organic product released from household products and suspended particle matters released by chemicals present in sanitary and cleaning supplements. Both AAP and HAP caused 8.0 million premature death in the year 2016 as per WHO reports.
Children are more vulnerable to the adverse effect of both ambient and household pollution due to a range of physical, environmental, and behavioral reasons. They have a diminutive body size and weaker immunity system, which makes them liable to damage induced by pollutants Much of their internal organs including lungs are still in the development process and hence they are more at risk to inflammation and harm by suspended particles. They also like to play outside and get in contact with sand and mud more likely than adults. Fetus and toddlers are most liable to be affronted by threats possessed by indoor pollution, kids of older age are bound to be afflicted by contaminated air in an open environment as well as inside the residence. Hence it is imperative on part of parents to exercise caution and take preventive measures to protect their children from the danger posed by air pollution. If vigilance is not exercised, the child may be forever accursed with serious ailments.
Authentic studies and reports published by bodies as Unicef and sites as Science Daily have concluded that air pollution has detrimental consequences upon the health of children. The possible threats of air pollution to children, according to Air Pollution and Child Health 2018 report published by the World Health Organization are briefly accosted in the following points.
• Lungs underdevelopment: It impairs lung development among children has proven by research done by the Southern California Children Study group. This in turn negatively impacts lung functioning among afflicted children.
• Neurodevelopment: It also has adverse repercussions on the cognitive ability and neurodevelopment of children. It can also trigger autism and spectrum disorder.
• Complicated birth and related affliction: Care should be taken to not expose a pregnant woman to contaminated air as it is detrimental to fetus health and might also lead to premature birth.
• Respiratory diseases: It also causes several respiratory diseases as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. They also become prone to incurring respiratory infection and pulmonary diseases.
• Cancer: Constant exposure to bad air increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
• Skin disease: Due to pollution, an evident spurt in skin diseases among children as rashes, allergies, etc. are also noted by specialists.
It is impossible to eradicate air pollution by root but it is possible to ward off its efficacy by adopting certain steps as follows :
• Make use of masks: Ensure that your child wears a mask while going outside as it reduces the risk of infiltration of harmful gases and toxins along with viruses.
• Install an Air purifier: Set up an air purifier inside your child's room. Make sure it comes with High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters since they are very effective in eradicating particles.
• Abstain from using toxic household supplies: Refrain from using cleaning supplements, household products, and paints that contain chemicals as they consist of volatile organic compounds that are detrimental to your child's health.
• Check the air quality: The air quality varies over the day. Monitor it routinely and allow your child to go outside at a time when the PM2.5 level is decent.
• Ensure proper ventilation: Proper aeration and use of exhaust fans and chimney greatly reduce the threat of indoor pollution by curbing the growth of unwanted fungus, yeast, and bacteria.
• Control the humidity level: Our climate is already humid and we cannot change it according to our whims even if we wish to but we can control its level inside our houses by using dehumidifier or exhaust fans.
Air pollution looms as a grave hazard to the health of your children and it is your responsibility to shield them from such danger. Efforts should be put up from pregnancy itself to moderate the effect of pollutant exposure as it is the most critical juncture of contracting AAP borne disease. Care and protection in the early years help children to develop a better defense in adulthood against any diseases. Do not ignore air pollution as something gullible and harmless as it is a perilous and omnipresent threat to the life of all humans and more so to your precious children.