Ozone Air Pollution and Children

Why Are Children At Risk?
Physically, children are more vulnerable to air pollution than adults because their respiratory defenses are not fully formed. Their airways are smaller, and more likely to become blocked when irritated. They breathe more rapidly, taking in more pollution per pound of body weight. Children also spend a lot of time outdoors. They play hard, and breathe hard. Finally, children generally do not acknowledge the effects of ozone exposure, even when they are experiencing significantly reduced breathing ability. So they are less likely than adults to protect themselves from further harm by reducing activity level or going inside.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Children?
Keep an eye on your child's health.Look for warning signs of undiagnosed asthma, such as coughing regularly, and shortness of breath when exercising, and share your observations with your pediatrician. Children with asthma are especially sensitive to air pollution.

If your child does have asthma, learn to recognize what triggers his or her attacks, and help plan to avoid those substances.One of the problems with ozone air pollution is that it can sensitize asthmatics, so that on bad air days they react more strongly to triggers than usual.

Make your indoor environment "lung healthy." Keep it smoke-free and cleaned regularly to reduce dust and insect pests. Fix any leaks or moisture problems that might cause mold growth.

Keep track of air pollution levels.If the air quality is unhealthy, try to limit the amount of time your child spends outdoors in vigorous play. Plan the most strenuous activities for the early morning hours, before ozone levels climb. Keep all outdoor activities as far as possible from busy roadways and other sources of pollution.

Make sure your child's coaches and camp directors are aware of the health risks of air pollution, and have policies in place to protect the kids when air quality is unhealthy.If your child has asthma, it is important that these care-givers know he or she is especially vulnerable on high ozone days.

Speak out in support of clean air.Community leaders need to hear from people who are concerned about the toll air pollution is taking on the health of our children.

This article was published by NASA, copyright 2013. It can be accessed online at the following link.

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