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How Air Pollution Is Destroying Your Child's Health

Air Pollution  And Your Child's Health
Air Pollution  And Your Child's Health

According to the recent report presented by WHO in the "Global conference on air pollution and health" in Geneva on 29th of October 2018, across the globe, more than 6,00,000 children below age five died from acute respiratory infections caused by air pollution in 2016. In which India recorded the highest number of air pollution-related cases with 1,00,000 death of children under age five in 2016. The study took by WHO was performed in 198 different countries regarding the impact of toxic air on children's health.

Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic Of Congo and Ethiopia are the countries in the list as well completing the top 5 worst countries with the highest number of child mortality rate. Death rate or a ratio of deaths to the population during a particular period of time was higher in these countries than that of India.

Dr. SK Chhabra, a renowned doctor at the Primus Super Speciality Hospital has also agreed with the reports presented by WHO. According to him, a study conducted by his team in 2017 at the Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, where they found that children in Delhi have a far lower lung capacity and lung growth rate compared to children of the same age group in the United States of America.

Who's Report

Dr. Rahul Nagpal, a pediatric consultant at Fortis hospital said, the first impact of air pollution is seen on the respiratory system. We see a lot of allergies, infections and prolonged coughs. The nose and ear are both affected by air pollution.



Why Children are most vulnerable to air pollution exposure?

In the research presented by WHO, the members of the research listed why children of age under five are most vulnerable to air pollution exposure and the various ways in which air pollution affects their health - which include inhalation and ingestion of pollution particles.

1). As children breathe at twice the rate that adults do, they inhale larger amounts of air pollutants. Pollutant particles very easily move through the respiratory system reaching the lungs, alveoli, and bloodstream very fastly and affecting them with the passage of time.

2). Children are also more physically active than adults, which allows them to inhale more air pollutants at a faster pace than that of adults. Children are closer to the ground where pollution concentrations are higher.

3). Certain minute pollutants(small enough to enter the body) inhaled by the pregnant mother can enter the bloodstream and then cross the placental barrier( lining between mother and fetus considered to be the leakiest barrier and is a very poor block to chemicals) and reach the fetus and in turn can affect the baby's growth and development.

4). Mother's milk is also found to be a carrier of air pollutants. Pollutants from an industrial source such as pesticides, fossil fuels, chemical-by-products or volatile organic compounds(compounds that easily become vapors or gases) can enter the mother's body through inhalation or by ingestion(swallowing) before being passed into breast milk. The research found that "polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’S)" a toxic and carcinogenic(cancerous) compound have been found in the breast milk.    

What these pollutants are capable of doing to children:

WHO has pointed out the most possible impact of toxic air pollutants on children's health, which includes:

1). Acute lower respiratory infection: 

Its responsible for half of all deaths due to exposure to air pollution among children below 5 years.

   a). Pneumonia = Infection that inflames air sacs in one or both lungs, which may fill with fluid.
   
   b). Influenza = A common viral infection that can be deadly, especially in high-risk groups.

2).Behavioral disorders:

   a). Autism spectrum disorder = Autism spectrum disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication.

   b). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder = Children with ADHD may be hyperactive and unable to control their impulses. Or they may have trouble paying attention.

3). Adverse metabolic outcomes:

    a). Obesity

    b). Insulin resistance

4). Otitis Media: 

An infection of the air-filled space behind the eardrum (the middle ear).

5). Retinoblastoma: 

An eye cancer that begins in the back of the eye (retina), most commonly in children

6). Leukemia: 

A cancer of blood-forming tissues, hindering the body's ability to fight infection.

7).Mother's exposure to air pollution:

    a). Low birth weight 

    b). The rise in preterm birth 
    
    c). Stillbirths

Prevention of child from air pollution:

1. Reduce automobile pollution:

Combusting fossil fuels plays a vital role in air pollution. Limit your use of vehicles and avoid using vehicles for short distances. Try replacing the air filters of your vehicle regularly in order to reduce the air pollution. Consider buying vehicles with less pollution emission.

2. Use eco- friendly products:

Many household products are capable of cleaning the house very well but they contain a load of chemicals which in return causes indoor air pollution. Children inhale these chemicals which make them sick or might affect their health in near future.

3.  Indoor precautions:

Close the doors and windows of your house during the daytime, as the amount of pollution is much higher during the daytime. Closing windows and doors won't allow the pollutants to enter the room and protect the family and children from inhaling such toxic pollutants.

4. Avoid smoking inside the room:

Cigarette smoke contains a mixture of more than 7000 chemical compounds which is very harmful to your children as well as your other family members. So try to avoid smoking or smoke outside the room or outside the house.

5. Use recycled products:

Try using recycled material as this will reduce the production of newer materials which in return reduce the air pollution.

6. Save energy:

Production of electricity produces a lot of air pollution which pollutes the environment, so try saving energy to the best of your efforts. In addition, saving energy reduces the air polluting particles and carbon emissions.

7. Indoor plants:

Many of the plants that grow inside the house help in reducing indoor air pollution. Some the very best indoor plants that reduce air pollution are Spider plant, Golden pathos, Peace lily, Bamboo palm, Gerbera daisy.

8. Wearing air pollution mask:

Pollution mask is the best and most cheap way to protect your child or other family members from inhaling hazardous air pollutants. Use pollution masks while going out and also make your child wear the same.


Conclusion:

About 98% of the kids below age five in India are exposed to PM2.5. Considering the present scenario, air pollution is the most dangerous health hazard for you and your child. And there seems no possible way of reduction of air pollution in these coming years. Your child's safety is in your hands. Do the best to protect yourself and your child from air pollutants.



Reference:

1). who.int/how-air-pollution-is-destroying-our-health
How Air Pollution Is Destroying Your Child's Health How Air Pollution Is Destroying Your Child's Health Reviewed by Piyush Narayan on October 31, 2018 Rating: 5

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