In the recent past there has been a huge campaign by the media and so many notifications by the court on the dangerously rising levels of pollution in our country especially in the Delhi NCR region. Despite this the gravity of the situation has still not sunk into the general population. Air pollution can have an adverse effect on all human beings.
Effect of air pollution on the health of the children – the lungs the most :
The effect on children due to air pollution is multifold compared to a normal adult. The reason is the physiology and anatomy of the respiratory system of children.
- The lungs are not well formed at birth, and development of full functionality does not occur until approximately 6 years of age. During early childhood, the bronchial tree is still developing. For example, the number of alveoli in the human lung increases from 24 million at birth to 257 million at age 4, and the lung epithelium is not fully developed. This results in greater permeability of the epithelial layer in young children.
- Children also have a larger lung surface area per kilogram of body weight than adults and, under normal breathing, breathe 50% more air per kilogram of body weight than adults.
- This process of early growth and development, the outcome of which is important for the future health of the child, suggests that there is a critical exposure time when air pollution may have lasting effects on respiratory health.
Research supports that air pollution can adversely affect your children:
A study conducted in Delhi in 2010 by Chitaranjan National institute showed that
Delhi’s kids had 1.8 times more respiratory illnesses (sinusitis, running or stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat and common cold with fever) and 2 times more lower respiratory tract illnesses. frequent dry cough, sputum-producing cough, wheezing breath, breathlessness on exertion, chest pain or tightness and disturbed sleep due to breathing problems).
The common pollutants in the air are Carbon monoxide, Sulfur dioxide, Particulate matter, Lead, Ground level Ozone, nitrogen dioxide.
While the major effect of air pollution is on the respiratory system, it can also affect other systems of the body.
Short term effects of air pollution:
Irritation to eyes, nose, throat, upper respiratory tract infections. It can increase the chances of bronchitis and pneumonia.
Long term health effects air pollution :
Bronchial Asthma, Heart disease, Adverse effect on brain, nervous system, liver, kidneys and even increase the incidence of cancer.
Take precautions and save your kids:
In winter season the adverse effects further increase because of the smog. It is hence recommended that children should be taken outdoors only when it is nice and sunny outside. Avoid taking them out before sunrise and after sunset.
There may be many other effects of air pollution that have not yet been brought to light. What is already known is scary and what is unknown may even be scarier. Air pollution with reference to children is a problem that has already surpassed the need of urgency and started showing its ugly effects in the metros. There is urgent need for awakening of people in general to work towards a healthy breathing environment for our children.