Infants and young children face cardinal risks from air pollution as their lungs are still developing. Just like their hands and legs, the largest portions of their lungs grow after they are born. Their active behaviour makes them more vulnerable to air pollutants. It is essential for young parents, therefore, to be cautious.
Every day, around 93% of the children in the world under the age of 15 – 1.8 billion in number – breathe extremely polluted air, putting their health at stake, especially in low - and middle - income countries. The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that in 2016, 6 lakh children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.
Dr Abhay Kumar, Associate Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Eureka Forbes Limited states that "unlike adults, children are not cautious about their behaviour and are exposed to the external environment because they play outdoors. This may result in their lungs getting damaged at a very tender age (80% of air sacs develop early). These air sacs, called alveoli, aren’t fully developed until children attain adulthood. Additionally, the body’s defence mechanism that helps fight off infections is not completely developed in children".
It is a proven fact that air pollution affects children even when they are inside the womb. A study conducted in California states that higher particle pollution levels increase the risk of pre-term birth.
More than one in every four deaths of children under the age of 5 years is directly or indirectly related to environmental risks, according to the WHO Air Pollution and Child Health Report. This calls for immediate action by the adults, who must come together and take the much-needed steps starting with curbing the burning of crops.
Keeping air quality in check is non-negotiable. Air quality varies from day to day and even hour to hour. Hence, it is important to measure it and choose the best time of the day to go out for a stroll and inhale fresh air.
Dr Abhay Kumar, widely recommend measures to safeguard children from impure air indoors by installing an air purifier. Air purifiers with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are more efficient in protecting the environment indoors.
With rising air pollution levels, measures such as installing air purifiers and bringing home plants that purify the air (areca palm, peace lily, snake plants) are important. Protect Your Children From Toxic Air! This moment calls for action to safeguard your children’s future, Now.
(With inputs from Dr Abhay Kumar, Associate Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Eureka Forbes Limited)
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