Air pollution and children’s health

Air pollution and children’s health

Air pollution is the contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.

Air pollution is one of the main threats to children’s health, accounting for almost 1 in 10 deaths in children under the age of five. One of the reasons children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution is that they breathe faster than adults and therefore absorb more pollutants. They also live closer to the ground, where some pollutants reach maximum concentrations, at a time when their brains and bodies are still developing. Newborns and young children are also more susceptible to air pollution in homes that regularly use polluting fuels and technologies for cooking, heating and lighting.

Oxidative stress induced by exposure to air pollution

Air pollution is associated with increased cardiovascular and pulmonary morbidity and mortality. Mechanisms of air pollution-induced health effects involve oxidative stress and inflammation. In fact, particulate matter, especially fine (PM2.5, PM

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.

Allergic disorders, such as asthma, rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis, are mediated by oxidative stress. In bronchial asthma, oxidative stress aggravates airway inflammation by inducing inflammatory mediators, enhancing bronchial hyperresponsiveness, stimulating bronchospasm, and increasing mucus secretion.

Air pollution and effects on children’s skin

Long-term exposure to low-level urban air pollution was associated with a higher prevalence of skin changes in children. Various air pollutants such as ultraviolet radiation, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, oxides, particulates, ozone, and cigarette smoke affect the skin as it is the outermost barrier.

Air pollutants damage the skin by inducing oxidative stress. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation has been associated with extrinsic skin aging and skin cancers. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons are associated with extrinsic skin aging, pigmentation and cancer. Volatile organic compounds have been associated with atopic dermatitis.

Cigarette smoking has been associated with skin aging (wrinkles and dry skin) and the combination of smoking and sun exposure can have a synergistic effect on skin aging. Additionally, it has been associated with skin cancer, psoriasis, and acne vulgaris.

Air pollution and pediatric asthma

Children are disproportionately affected by the negative health effects of air pollution. Infancy and childhood, the period of organ and lung development, is most susceptible to these environmental hazards; As a result, the risks of respiratory diseases increase after exposure to air pollution.

Air pollutants have the same effect on children with asthma as other triggers. They irritate the airways, making them swell and harden, and cause breathing problems. Pollutants can also make children more likely to get upper respiratory infections (such as colds), which can trigger asthma symptoms. If airborne allergens are an asthma trigger, the pollutants can make the lungs even more sensitive to them.

Exposure to air pollutants has been consistently linked to poor asthma control in children, with numerous studies showing reduced lung function and higher rates of rescue medication use, emergency department visits, and asthma exacerbation hospitalizations. asthma.

Air pollution and allergic rhinitis

The nose is the first organ system that inhaled air and its associated pollutants encounter. Contaminants are deposited during inspiration through the nose. They accumulate in the mucus and are absorbed in the nasal mucosa, which produces a series of harmful effects for the organism.

Irritation of the nose and sinuses by these contaminants, resulting from direct contact with the nasal mucosa, leads to inflammation, edema, swelling, and blocked sinuses. The result is acute and chronic sinusitis. The absorption of these chemicals in the body produces systemic effects.

Early exposure to traffic-related air pollutants during pregnancy and the first year of life may contribute to childhood allergic rhinitis. Persistent exposure to nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide gases can increase the prevalence of allergic rhinitis in children.

Does air pollution cause obesity?

Babies who were exposed to air pollutants in the womb were likely to become obese in infancy. In children, there is increasing evidence showing that air pollution may be associated with the development of obesity. Several mechanisms have been postulated for this, including changes in basal metabolism that induce inflammation, oxidative stress, and hormonal disruption, increases in brain inflammation including microglial activation, and anxiety, leading to increased caloric intake, and influences on the child’s behavior, such as physical activity levels. and eating habits. Most epidemiological studies on this topic have reported an increased risk of childhood obesity with higher levels of exposure to ambient air pollution during childhood.

Tips to reduce air pollution

Schools and playgrounds should be located away from major sources of air pollution, such as busy highways, factories, and power plants. Turn off lights when not in use. Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible. Avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials. No to plastic bags. No Smoking.

Combine errands and reduce travel. Walk to run errands when possible. Avoid excessive idling of your car. Refuel your car at night when it is colder. Bike or walk whenever possible. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Using public transportation is a safe way to help reduce air pollution, as it provides less gas and energy.

Recycle and Reuse. Use of fans instead of air conditioning. Use chimney filters. Last but not least, plant and grow as many trees as possible. The practice of planting trees provides many benefits to the environment and helps with the release of oxygen.

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