Pollution Hazards Affect Child Health

Pollution hazards are gift of industrialization and have been on the rise since World War II. Significantly large quantity of thousands of synthetic chemicals is flooding the environment every year, which threaten child health.

Mounting pollution displays the over emphasized selfish instinct of human nature. We use the natural and technical resources for our benefits, but are neither bothered to clean up the mess nor hold the responsibility for the consequences that follow.

Pollution hazards proved to play major role in 85% diseases

Studies have shown that even at 
low doses, the toxic elements prevalent in our ambient environment can have a significant impact on childhood development.

We have succeeded in controlling infectious diseases, but have totally failed in maintaining a healthy environment for our children.

Pollution hazards have therefore shifted the burden of diseases towards chronic childhood disabilities that leave their impact throughout the adulthood.

The levels of toxins that were considered safe couple of decades ago are now linked to longstanding compromise of child health.

Fetal basis of adult diseases: Many toxins, though insignificant when evaluated for adults, inflict long lasting effects on child health and into adulthood.

The body concentration of the pollutants is much higher in children as opposed to that in adults. Childhood physiology and lifestyle make children more prone to accumulate the environmental toxins and to their toxic effects.

Why are children more susceptible to pollution hazards?

As compared to adults, children intake more of the environmental toxins found in water, air, soil and foods. Moreover, the physiological capacity to degrade the imbibed toxins is yet under developed.

Note The Factors That Would Make Children More Prone to Pollution Related Health Hazards

The contributing factors are enumerated below:

  1. The small size of children leads to higher concentration of toxins per unit body weight.

  2. Tender tissues: even the skin is more permeable to toxins.

  3. Yet developing physiological systems.

  4. Respiratory immaturity: 80 percent of the lung alveoli are formed during infancy and the maturation of lung function continue through teenage. 

    Though the damaging effect of air pollutants is most pronounced during early infancy, ambient air toxins jeopardize the development of respiratory functional capacity throughout the childhood. Consequently, as young adults, they fair poorly for lung functions.

  5. Children have higher exposure to most air pollutants as compared to adults. 

    * High respiratory rate gives them higher minute ventilation. 
    * Higher levels of physical activity. 
    * Children spend more time outdoors.

  6. Children’s intake of water and food is more than that of adults, when calculated as amount taken per kilo of body weight.

  7. The habit of putting the fingers in the mouth, leads to children’s easy ingestion of chemicals/ heavy metals from the soil.

  8. Habitually children play and move close to the ground.

  9. The metabolic pathways are not fully developed during infancy and early childhood.

  10. The capacity to metabolize, detoxify and excrete many chemical agents is immature.

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Effects of pollution hazards on child health

Major Effects of Pollution on Child Health

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1. Featal growth and development

2. Respiratory problems

  • Sub-optimal development of lung functions

  • Asthma – development and exacerbation

  • Prone to frequent respiratory tract infections

3. Immunotoxic efffects

  • Allergies

  • Childhood cancers

  • Heavy metal like damaging effects on kidneys

4. Other toxic effects

5. Neurodevelopmental disorders

6. Disturbs emotional and mental health

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Nature of pollution hazards on child health

1. Air Pollution

  • Carbon monoxide from exhaust of oil consumption
  • Nitrogen oxide
  • Sulfuric dioxide
  • Particulate matter
  • Lead
  • Smog

2. Bad Ozone in the ambient air results from burning fossil fuels like gas, diesel, coal, and wood.

3. Depletion of the good Ozone up in the atmosphere that protects children from the ill effects of solar UV rays.

4. Marine pollution

  • Sewage disposed directly in to the ocean
  • Marine litter
  • Oil spills
  • Dumped industrial waste chemicals like mercury and radioactive compounds.

5. Fresh water pollution

  • Human waste
  • Domestic waste
  • Industrial effluents from textile, paper, food and metal industries.
  • "Run-off" of nitrogen from fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture.
  • Deforestation lead soil erosion in to river beds.

6. Global warming

7. Green house effect

8. Noise pollution

9. Electromagnetic pollution

10. Soil pollution: Interests you? Click here to read European Commission's Report of Sept'2013  "Soil Contamination: Impacts on Human Health". (Opens new window)

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There is more on pollution hazards

Air pollution hazards on child health

Second hand smoke: A real threat to child health

Effects of secondhand smofe during childhood

Tobacco smoking: When mother smokes, Baby also smokes

Dangers of passive smoking in infants and toddlers

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