How Does Pollution Affect Your Child's Health?

Every day, your child is exposed to pollution in different forms. Each form varies from the other in terms of effect and cause. But, can pollution affect your child’s health? If so, to what extent?

By Ashwin Dewan

How Does Pollution Affect Your Child's Health?

There are several types of pollution around us – air, water, light, noise, etc. Each one has different consequences. For a child, whose immune system is yet to develop fully, these pollutants might result in several illnesses.

Earlier this year, the United Kingdom announced that air pollution had reached very high levels in eight regions across the nation. Air is not the only form of pollution that has increased over the years, other types are increasing too.

A Greenpeace India report titled Airpocalypse published in 2017 stated as many as 1.2 million deaths take place every year due to air pollution in India.

So, what does this mean for your child? Let us look at the common types of pollution that can have the most impact on your child.

• Water pollution:

Water pollution is the contamination of various water bodies such as the sea, lakes, rivers, ponds, etc. Water pollution is caused by waste from industries, insecticides, pesticides, and chemicals; and oil spills caused by spillage from tankers and rigs.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.2 million kids under the age of five die because of diseases caused by drinking polluted water. Water pollution can lead to waterborne diseases in children like cholera, typhoid, malaria, fluorosis, typhoid fever, etc.

What you can do: Always ensure the water you give your child is free from contaminants. Teach him about the benefits of drinking clean and pure water.

• Noise pollution:

Noise pollution is when your child’s ears experience discomfort as a result of an undesirable sound. The industrial sound limit according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is 75 decibels (dB). Every day, children are exposed to noise pollution in many forms – honking of vehicles, trains, a public gathering, loud music being played, heavy machinery operating, etc. Noise pollution leads to stress in children and can damage their ear drums leading to deafness.

What you can do: Try putting ear plugs or cotton buds in your child’s ears when there is danger of exposure to loud noise. Do not expose him to high levels of noise regularly, for instance, keep the volume of your TV set at an acceptable level always.

• Light pollution:

Light pollution, as the name suggests, is caused by exposure to bright lights over a continuous period. City lighting, advertising and billboards and light streaming from a gadget can cause a strain on the eyes and result in headaches in migraine.

What you can do: You can install lights of lower power in your house. Ensure your child is not exposed to bright lights for a prolonged period. Switch off all lights when she falls sleep.

How Does Pollution Affect Your Child's Health?

• Air pollution:

Air pollution is considered the most potent of all pollutants for children because they are exposed to it every single day. In fact, air is the most polluted environmental resource. Air pollution is caused by several factors: exhaust gases from vehicles, gases from industries like sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide, burning of plastic, wood and rubber, etc. Air pollution can drastically reduce air quality by making it unclean and contaminated.

Long-term exposure to air pollution can affect the respiratory and inflammatory systems of children. This is because the lungs of children and their systems of elimination are still developing. Children who suffer from asthma or lung problems are at a greater risk. In October 2016, UNICEF released a report stating that air pollution kills 600,000 children every year throughout the world.

What you can do: In case you think air pollution is extremely high in the area you live in, you can restrict the time your child spends outdoors. If your child complains of sore eyes, cough, or sore throat, you should immediately prevent her from playing outdoors.