Clear the air for children: The impact of air pollution on children

Editor David Anthony
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), October 2016

100 pp. 11.5 MB

Children breathe twice as quickly as adults, and take in more air relative to their body weight. Their respiratory tracks are more permeable and thus more vulnerable. Their brains are still developing. Ultrafine, airborne pollutants – caused primarily by smoke and fumes – can more easily enter and irritate children’s lungs, causing and exacerbating life-threatening disease. Studies show these tiny particles can also cross the blood-brain barrier, which is less resistant in children, causing inflammation, damaging brain tissue, and permanently impairing cognitive development. They even can cross the placental barrier, injuring the developing fetus when the mother is exposed to toxic pollutants. Protecting children from air pollution is not only in their best interests; it is also in the best interests of their societies. We can make the air safer for children. And because we can, we must.

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