Infants and children often have more exposure to air pollutants than adults. In infancy, children breath more rapidly than adults do, which increases their exposure to pollutants that are in the air. What’s more, infants and children also breathe through their mouths, which negates the natural filtering effects of the nose and allows more exposure to airborne particles that could be harmful.

We often encourage children to go outside and play, rightly assuming that outdoor play stimulates their imaginations and improves their ability to entertain themselves. Research has shown that frequent outdoor play can have a positive effect on a child’s development and executive functioning. On the other hand, research also shows that outdoor play exposes children to more pollutants, particularly in the summer months where smog levels are highest.

This doesn’t mean, however, that we should lock out children indoors and shield them from airborne pollutants. Children still benefit from outdoor play and need exposure to the sun and dirt to bolster their immune systems. Parents should be aware of how pollutants can affect their children’s health and what they can do to mitigate any risks. Learn how to reduce your family’s exposure to potentially harmful airborne particles.

How Air Pollutants Affect Children and Infants

In general, children are more susceptible to the negative health effects of air pollution because of their developing immune systems. Children have immature organs and immune responses, which can lead to more serious consequences. For example, when a child inhales lead, it’s much more likely to become deposited into their quickly growing bones. This can lead to neurological damages, developmental delays, and cognitive problems.

Air pollutants are also more likely to irritate a child’s developing tissues and air pathways. Exposure to pollutants can trigger asthma attacks, breathing ailments, and other obstructions in a child’s naturally narrower airway. What’s more, exposure to toxic air particles during infancy and childhood have been linked to issues in the development of the respiratory, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems. Children with prolonged exposure may be at a higher risk of developing cancer.

The Major Air Contaminants – And How They Affect Children

There are two main categories of air pollutants: “criteria pollutants” and “toxic air contaminants.”

Criteria Air Pollutants

Criteria pollutants include particulate matter (PM) and ozone. PM are microscopic pollutants that occur from both manmade and natural sources. Examples include smoke from fireplaces, forest fires, agricultural waste, diesel engines, and more. PM penetrates deep into a child’s lungs and can exacerbate asthma, cause hacking coughs, and other respiratory effects. Research has shown that children growing up in urban areas have significantly less lung function due to PM pollution.

The other main criteria air pollutant is ozone. This pollutant occurs as the result of chemical reactions in the atmosphere with the sunlight and gasses from motor vehicles and industrial applications. Ozone has a well-known effect on the respiratory system, leading to lung irritation, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Long-term exposure can lead to permanently decreased lung function.

Toxic Air Contaminants

Toxic air contaminants are any pollutants that we know may present an actual or potential hazard to human health. These pollutants are linked to an increase in morbidity and mortality. There are currently at least 200 chemicals that are classified as toxic air contaminants. The majority of these come from motor vehicle emissions, industrial byproducts, and combustive processes. Exposure to these elements can increase a child’s propensity to allergies and asthma, as well as lead to chronic breathing problems.

How Can I Reduce My Child’s Exposure?

Pregnant women, infants, and children need to limit their exposure to pollutants as much as possible. The Airbox Air Purifier processes 500 cubic feet of air a minute, removing harmful pollutants from your home. It also works to remove bacteria, viruses, pollen, and allergy-causing particles. It at least 5 times more effective than the average air purifier and ensures that your family will be breathing clean air whenever they’re home.

You can’t control the amount of pollution outdoors, but you can significantly reduce your family’s exposure to pollutants by making your indoor air as clean as possible. An Airbox Air Purifier is designed to improve the air quality in your home in order to improve the health and well-being of your family.