Air Pollution and Children
(Taken from Health and Clean Air Newsletter, Spring 2003 Issue, co-edited by Curtis Moore and Dr. David Bates). www.healthandcleanair.org In developing countries, indoor cooking and heating fuel can range from twigs to dried dung resulting in devastatingly high fine particulate pollution. Every year in these countries 4.1 million children under the age of 5 die from acute respiratory illness. One quarter of these deaths are directly related to indoor smoke exposure. In our country 'soot' exposure in many areas comes primarily from cars, trucks buses, factories and generators burning fuels such as coal. Some areas experience high exposure through the burning of forest and agricultural residues. Many communities, like ours, suffer from exposure to winter wood smoke. There are many ways we can reduce air pollution and our exposure to it. A good start is simply becoming aware of it and connecting the dots, not just to the staggering asthma statistics, but to the incredible suffering wreaked upon so many of our children. Awareness breeds personal and political commitment. Nothing short of that will bring any significant change. ACUTE HEALTH EFFECTS FOR CHILDREN Asthma
Air pollution exacerbates existing asthma. There is growing evidence that specific pollutants, like those related to traffic, initiate asthma. Bronchiolitis
Is the #1 reason for infant hospitalization.
Woodsmoke causes an 8% increase in bronchiolitis
(Karr et al. AJRCCM 2009) Otitis Media (Ear Infection)
Is the #1 reason for children under 2 years old to see a physician.
Is the #1 reason for children under 5 years old to receive antibiotics
10% of otitis media is directly linked to woodsmoke pollution.
(E. MacIntyre, PhD Thesis, UBC, 2010)
Woodsmoke exposures cause a 32% increase in middle ear infections. Low Birth Weight and Pre-Term Birth
Living 50 meters or closer to a provincial highway increases low birth with by 21%.
(Brauer er al. EHP 2008; Clark er al. EHP 2010. Karr et al. AM J Resp Crit Care Med 2009; MacIntyre et al. Epidemiology 2011). Reduced Lung Function Growth
(Gauderman et al. MEJM 2004)
Severe air pollution can actually stunt lung development in children. It can also interfere with lung function development leading to earlier than normal disability and death.