Indoor pollution can be detrimental to the health of children as their bodies are developing and do not have the capacity to ward off its harmful effects. Indoor air pollution can affect various organs, including the lungs and brain, leading to harmful short- and long-term consequences. Let’s take a closer look at this type of pollution and how it affects children.
What Is Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor air pollution refers to the air quality indoors that is adversely affected by chemicals and other harmful matter. It is often considered even more damaging to health than outdoor air pollution, as chemical matter from sources inside the home can build up to harmful levels without much opportunity for this polluted air to escape from the area.
In countries that are developed, indoor air pollution consists of things such as asbestos and pesticides. In developing countries like India, biomass fuel combustion produces matter that is the main cause of indoor air pollution - for example, the incomplete combustion products from using biomass fuels such as firewood and cow dung can result in harmful suspended particulate matter and other harmful elements that can be dangerous to health. Those who use coal for fuel are at risk from the oxides of sulfur, arsenic and fluorine that its combustion causes. Indoor air pollution also includes a host of other pollutants such as smoking, dust mites, molds and pollen. Gases emitted from products such as paint, cleaning supplies, glue and pesticides, permanent markers, and even printers and photocopiers and some building materials, can contribute to indoor air pollution. As well as infectious elements that can be borne out of textiles such as mattresses and carpets, or water that is stagnant - even humidifiers can pollute the air indoors.
Effects on Children
Indoor air pollution can have serious health consequences on children as their bodies are still developing and they take in more pollution with respect to their size when compared with full grown adults. Because of this, their bodies are not equipped to process, detoxify and eliminate the toxins that they inhale from the air. Kids are also more active generally than adults as they run around and play a lot, which leads them to breathe in more pollution from the air.
Children's lungs are growing and pollution interferes with this development. Their brains too can be affected by air pollution as neurotoxic compounds can have a negative impact on cognitive development.
Even babies in utero are not immune to the ill-effects of indoor air pollution as those born to women who have been exposed to air pollution when pregnant have a higher likelihood of being born premature and having å low birth weight.
Steps to Reduce the Effects of Indoor Air-pollution
- Don’t smoke near children or inside your home
- Choose the fuel and method you use to cook wisely - electricity, natural gas, liquefied petroleum (LPG) gas, biogas or solar energy is recommended for stoves or ovens.
- Make sure your kitchen is well-ventilated - use an exhaust or keep windows open when cooking.
- Don’t use fuels such as kerosene.
- Limit the use of candles and aerosol sprays such as air fresheners and furniture polish, which emit toxic chemical gases.
- Keep other aspects of your child’s life healthy and their immunity up with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Timely immunization too is crucial to protecting them against harmful diseases that can wreak havoc on their health and have long-term consequences.
This is a partnered post.