On the occasion of International Childhood Cancer Day on 15th February 2022, I participated in a webinar organized by a leading organization in India. The subject of the webinar was air pollution and children’s health. During the webinar, many shocking and negative health impact of air pollution on children were discussed. That compelled me to write and share this to with you all.
How air pollution impacts children
Air pollution is everywhere and affects people of all ages. Children are most at risk from the negative effects of air pollution. These include increased odds of birth defects, infant mortality, neurodevelopment issues, obesity, lung growth issues, pneumonia, asthma, and cancers. Unfortunately, the list goes on and nearly every child in the world faces air pollution levels that can be destructive to their health. Children are in many ways the most at risk when it comes to air pollution’s negative health effects.
Why are children more affected by air pollution?
- Their organs (heart, lungs, etc) are still developing.
- Children breathe faster than adults, resulting in breathing in more pollutants.
- They may spend more time outside playing, exposing them to poor outdoor air quality levels.
- They spend time near their mothers while the latter cook with polluting fuels and devices.
- Children have a longer life expectancy than adults, so latent disease mechanisms have more time to emerge and affect their health
In recent years, more research has been done on how air pollution affects children’s health and the results are scary. It is very alarming for all of us. The World Health Organisation has said that air pollution has a “vast and terrible impact” on child health and survival and is an overlooked health emergency for children around the world. They breathe is so much polluted air that it puts their health and development at serious risk.
Some research and reports
Here are some recent researches and reports which have revealed that air pollution has a devastating impact on children’s health.
- 9 out of 10 children around the world are breathing in toxins that exceed safe levels–WHO
- Air pollution will become the leading cause of child mortality by 2050–UNICEF
- 60% of children in Kolkata have lung function impairments compared to 24% in the cleaner areas–CNCRI
- In Jharkhand over 20% children suffer from acute respiratory disorders–CINI
- Air pollution is a leading cause of concern in the mining state of Jharkhand where more than 17.8% children die as a consequence of being exposed to toxic particulate matter–Newswing
- As per a study, 90% children are more vulnerable due to air pollution–SwitchONFOundation
Life expectancy has been drastically reduced in the presence of air pollution. But overall awareness on this menace is scarce. Hence, there is a need to raise awareness in public and private sector and enact a strong law against its violation. Through awareness only, air pollution can be portrayed as a major killer among the public and that can save our children and future generation.