Air pollution contributes to the deaths of an estimated 7 million people a year globally and will kill more people this year than coronavirus. Breathing is something we do without thinking, but the majority of us are unaware of the health risks that come from poor air quality.
Air pollution is a broad term and is caused by a large variety of sources, natural and man-made. Natural sources of air pollution include volcanic eruptions and forest fires, while man-made sources include industry, vehicle emissions, and power plants. These air pollutants have been linked to serious health risks. For instance, breathing in vehicle emissions can cause asthma and lead to cancer.
How does air pollution affect children's health?
Air pollution is a silent killer and children are more susceptible because their airways are smaller still developing, and because they breathe faster than adults so taking in more air and, with it, more pollutants. Additionally, buggies and prams put them at the level of car exhausts and hand-held cigarettes. Exposure can lead to long-term health problems and increase the risk of developing respiratory diseases, asthma, allergies and ear infections. Exposure to air pollution can harm normal growth of lung function in the womb, during childhood and right up to the late teens. Babies exposed to air pollution in the womb can suffer from premature birth and low birth weight.
In children with asthma, high levels of air pollution are linked to increased asthma attacks.
A 2019 study conducted by King’s College London found that children living near busy roads were more likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses such as asthma and pneumonia.
What are the long-term health effects of air pollution?
Long-term exposure to pollutants has been linked with several serious illnesses such as heart disease, respiratory conditions, cancer and asthma. Air pollution increases the chance of developing chronic bronchitis and emphysema and can also lead to chronic respiratory diseases such as pneumonia in children. Asthma is now one of the most common childhood illnesses among children in developed countries.
Air pollution has also been linked with several forms of cancer, including lymphoma, leukemia and lung cancer. One study conducted by researchers at Silent Sprint Institute found that women who were exposed to more than one polluted source are at a greater risk for developing breast cancer than those who were not exposed to any polluted sources.
Another study revealed that long-term exposure to air pollution led to a higher risk of bladder cancer among women who were exposed while growing up in heavily industrialized areas such as Turin, Italy and Manchester, England. Men who grew up in these areas also had a higher chance of developing lung cancer compared to those who lived in less polluted areas.
Protect your Children’s Health
Children are powerless to change their own environment so rely on us to protect them from the threat of dangerous air.
The most effective way to protect your children’s health is to reduce air pollution in your environment. Indoor air pollution is more common than outdoor air pollution because the majority of us spend a great deal of time indoors, over 90% even before the pandemic.
Indoor air pollution can come from several sources, such as cooking stoves, wood burners, and tobacco smoke so it is important to keep your home clean and well ventilated. Ultrafine particles can linger in the air for hours and cannot be seen or smelt.
How do you know if your home has clean indoor air?
Air quality monitors such as our BREATHE|Smart 2 constantly monitor levels of dangerous particulates in the air you and your family are breathing and will alert you when you need to take action to reduce levels, and when they are safe again.