Harmful Effects of Air Pollution on Child’s Health and Development

Harmful Effects of Air Pollution on Child's Health and Development

In comparison to adults, children are at a higher risk of getting affected by the harmful effects of air pollution. The harmful effects are more pronounced on a child’s health because their lungs are still at a developing stage. Take out a few minutes and go through this post to know why children are more susceptible, which pollutants have the maximum impact, how it may affect the overall development of your kid and what all methods you may follow to diminish the impact of air pollution on your child’s health.

Reasons Why Children are More Susceptible to Air Pollution than Adults?

Here are some common reasons that make children more prone to the harmful effects of air pollution:

  • A child has more rapid breathing rate in comparison to an adult. This clearly indicates that a child may inhale or take in the air pollutants at a faster rate than an adult.
  • A child does not have fully matured lungs, and he may have fully developed lungs once he becomes a teenager. This means younger children may tend to inhale more environmental toxins and other air pollutants, which may get trapped or retained inside the lungs for a longer duration. This may affect their internal organs and cause other medical problems.
  • A child has the capacity of inhaling more air per kilogram of his body weight. It means that a child may take in more air pollutants as compared to adults.

Which Air Pollutants have Maximum Impact on Kids’ Health?

We are aware that air pollution may result in many health issues, but we may not be aware which all pollutants may be doing the damage. Let us find out more about problematic air pollutants that may cause maximum impact on your kid’s health:

1. Nitrogen Oxide

This pollutant may affect the lungs by causing inflammation and irritation. It may also cause problems in your child’s immune system, and the compromised immunity may increase the occurrence of lung troubles.

2. Carbon Monoxide

If a child inhales this pollutant, it enters the bloodstream and mixes with the haemoglobin very quickly, forming carboxyhaemoglobin. This occurrence is extremely dangerous and may hamper the flow of oxygen in the body.

3. Ozone

Where the short-term exposure to this pollutant may cause respiratory tract and eyes related problems, the long-term exposure may permanently affect the proper functioning of the lungs.

4. Airborne Particles

Airborne particles comprise sulfates, aerosols, carbon, and nitrate. These particles may aggravate the respiratory ailments such as asthma in kids. It may also cause other respiratory problems and reduce the air flow to the lungs of your child.

5. Diesel Emission

The microscopic carbon chemicals present in diesel are very small, and thus these may easily enter in your child’s lungs. These may lead to nausea, dizziness, throat problems, eye irritation and other such conditions in children.

6. Sulphur Dioxide

This pollutant may narrow the airways and may cause more problems to a child who may be suffering from asthma.

7. Lead

Lead is a heavy metal, and excess amounts of heavy metals in your child’s body may cause kidney problems, cognitive development issues, impaired motor skills, etc.

How does Air Pollution affect Child’s Health and Development

Children are delicate and harmful air pollutants may affect your growing child in many ways. Here are some possible risks of air pollution for children:

  • Excessive air pollution may lead to a slower rate of growth and development in children. It may impact the lungs and the proper functioning of the lungs.
  • Being exposed to an environmental toxin may cause infections or injuries in the lungs of your child which may reduce the lung capacity of your child. These adverse effects may not only be a childhood phenomenon, but it may affect your kid in adulthood too.
  • Health conditions such as cystic fibrosis or asthma may further aggravate if a child gets exposed to polluted air on a regular basis.
  • Apart from affecting the respiratory system of a child, the various air pollutants may affect the nervous system too. The cognitive development of a child may be stunted due to the exposure to heavy metals like lead.
  • Air pollution may impact the overall health of a child because medical conditions, food, water, air pollution, and other such problem-causing-factors are inter-linked and together they may deteriorate the overall health of a child.

Ways to Decrease the Impact of Air Pollution on Child’s Health

One thing is clear that in order to protect your child, you may have to find out ways to reduce the impact that your child may face. Well, here are some simple ways that may help you in reducing the impact of air pollution on your child’s health.

  • Ensure your kid eats well because proper diet and nutrition ensure good health and lesser risk of contacting any medical ailments.
  • Make it a point that your child spends some time daily in doing some kind of physical activity. There have been instances that have indicated a direct relationship between physical inactivity and the impact of air pollution on children. Doing any form of physical activity increases lung strength and may help in maintaining a good cardiovascular system.
  • If you feel the air quality is low or at unhealthy levels, you should make use of air conditioners/purifiers so that the harmful air does not enter your house.
  • In case your child falls sick with any kind of lung infection, ensure timely medicines and treatment options are promptly adopted. Sometimes in the dearth of precautionary and preventive measures certain health ailments may lead to fatal complications.
  • Ensure that you avoid peak air pollution hours when taking your child out. The ideal times for outdoor visits should be in the mornings and evenings. Avoid taking your child out during the noon hours.
  • Make sure your child plays, exercises or does any kind of physical activity in green or open spaces. Fresh air exposure is beneficial and important for your child’s health.
  • You can also do your bit to reduce the pollution by engaging in some healthy habits like carpooling, using public transport, cycling or walking to nearby places.

You may require a multi-faceted approach to protect your child from the harmful effects of air pollution. We hope this post helps in reducing some of your air pollution-related woes concerning your child’s well-being. We hope that your child stays healthy and safe!

Also Read: Pollution Facts for Children