How Does Pollution Affect Your Kid's Health?

Every day, your child is exposed to pollution in different forms. Learn why air pollution and water pollution can seriously affect your kid’s health, and what you can do about it.

By Ashwin Dewan

How Does Pollution Affect Your Kid's Health?

Recent news about high air pollution levels in Delhi and Chennai has sparked anxiety in the minds of parents about their kids’ health. Are you one amongst them?

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

A couple of years ago, 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. Even water pollution is a major concern in the developing nations.

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.

Types of pollution

1. Air pollution for kids

How Does Pollution Affect Your Kid's Health?

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.

2. Water pollution for kids

How Does Pollution Affect Your Kid's Health?

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.

2. Noise pollution for children

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.

4. Light pollution for kids

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.

Also read: Effects Of Air Pollution On Kids

About the author:

Written by Ashwin Dewan on 20 September 2017; updated on 13 November 2019

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