Air pollution spares none; not even your newborns. Respiratory issues and
lifelong problems are a few lethal consequences. Read to save your little ones.
With each passing day, the aggravating levels of air pollution is causing great harm to our health.
According to research, the year 2020 witnessed over 1.16 lakh infant deaths due to air pollution.
Further, according to a study conducted by WHO in 2016, over 5,43,000 children faced lethal
consequences of air pollution, which ranged from respiratory infections, impaired cognitive
development to lifelong problems.
Why Are Infants, Toddlers, And Children Highly Vulnerable?
Children Breathe More Rapidly; Hence, They Inhale More Pollutants
Infants and young children have a higher resting metabolic rate and oxygen consumption per unit
body weight than adults. In addition, they have a larger surface area per unit body weight since they
grow more rapidly. Thus, they have a broader exposure to any air pollutant.
Narrow Respiratory Tract
In comparison to adults, children have narrower airways. So when exposed to air pollutants, their
respiratory tract gets severely obstructed, leading to irritation, coughing, and breathing trouble.
Due To Low Immunity, Infants Are More Vulnerable
Newborns and young children have lower immunity power. Since their defence mechanism has not
fully been developed, they are highly vulnerable to the polluted air and its grave effects. They are
not always able to counteract the pollutants reaching their lungs. It causes respiratory problems,
retarded development, and stunted growth.
Effects Of Air Pollution
Air pollution can cause a plethora of health issues in your newborn baby. These may be respiratory
issues, allergies, development issues, or even death. Therefore, it makes it extremely important to
ensure steps to save your baby from pollution. Here are a few health issues caused by air pollution:
1. Prenatal Effects
Air pollution can also affect a fetus in the mother's womb through the
placenta. Expecting mothers when inhaling certain pollutants can cause damage to the DNA,
affect weight, and impact babies' immunity.
2. Respiratory Effects
Air pollution causes several chronic respiratory diseases. Asthma is one
of the most common diseases. Air pollution reduces the lung capacity of the baby, which can
cause serious health issues in later years of life.
3. Cognitive effect
Certain pollutants enter the baby's bloodstream and reach the brain,
which causes developmental issues. These pollutants damage the brain tissues and impact
learning ability and creativity.
Ways To Save Your Newborn Baby From Air Pollution
Before air pollution takes a significant toll on your infants' life, act to keep them safe from the
terrible effects of air pollution. Here is a collated list of ways in which you can protect your infant
from the hazardous effects of air pollution.
1. Limit Outdoor Exposure Of Your Newborn
With the continuously increasing levels of
environmental pollution, the outdoor air is hazardous for your newborn baby. Try not to
take your newborn baby out of your house. In case of an absolute emergency, wrap her up
properly to avoid exposure to the outdoor air. Children and the elderly population generally
have weak immunity. While others can wear a mask, it would not be an excellent option for
babies. Hence, it is best to limit their outdoor exposure.
2. Indoors Must Be Clean, Too
While you limit the outdoor exposure of the baby, ensure your
house is pollutant-free. Since they would be spending most of their time indoors, ensure
your house is well-ventilated and humidity levels are low. Ideally, the indoor humidity level
should be maintained within the range of 30-50%. Dampness adds to suffocation and acts as
a catalyst for the growth of microbes and allergens.
3. Say No To Artificial Fragrances
Room fresheners, perfumes, and scented candles, too, have
harmful chemicals in them, which may lead to respiratory hazards. Room fresheners and
perfumes comprise a chemical called phthalates that have been in controversy for causing
changes to the hormonal constituency and levels. These are toxic when inhaled. Keep your
baby away from these chemicals.
4. Use VOC & Lead-Free Paint On Your Walls
Paints contain VOCs. A high concentration of VOCs
causes potent health problems. VOCs are carcinogenic, and short exposure to them causes
dizziness, nausea, respiratory problems, eye irritation, headaches, liver damage, central
nervous system damage and so on. Therefore, it is essential to use paints that are eco-
friendly as they have low VOC content.
5. Keep The Doors And Windows Shut Near Your Baby's Room
Open doors and windows can
invite toxic pollutants and germs into the baby's room. It would help if you abstained from
keeping them open all day. You can keep the doors open for an hour or two in the morning
for sunlight to enter the room; this is important because sunlight is a crucial source of
vitamin D. If you want to ventilate the room, you can open the windows and doors when
there is relatively less pollution outside.
6. Smoke-Free Environment For The Kid
Make sure your child does not breathe in cigarette
smoke. Remember, secondhand smoke or passive smoking is equally dangerous as active
7. Breastfeed The Baby Properly To Build Immunity
You must breastfeed your baby regularly.
It is the most complete and immunity-rich source of nutrition for your growing baby.
Mother's milk contains immunoglobulin, which slowly and steadily builds the immunity of
8. Install A Dehumidifier Or An Air Purifier
Purifiers and humidifiers with HEPA filters can trap
small particulate matter like PM 2.5 and let out breathable and clean air. Humidifiers also
keep the humidity levels low by keeping the air dry. Purifiers filter out smoke and bacteria.
Those prone to respiratory ailments and allergies can install such humidifiers or cleaners to
better indoor air quality.
Air pollution is not just lethal for adults. It risks your newborn baby's or child's life to the same
extent. It would help if you did not let poor air quality affect your infant's health. Try out every
possible way to reduce exposure to air pollution and its harmful effects on your child.
Gas heating systems, leaking chimneys, fire places emits carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other harmful pollutants. Plastics and common household cleaners, paints, paint thinner often placed under the kitchen sink, release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), when used and stored. Overheating of non-stick cookware releases toxic fumes. Pesticides we use in and around the home also release various chemical and semi-volatile compounds.
Harmful effects Carbon monoxide causes headache, dizziness and fatigue. These often cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, and can also damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Fine particles are produced during all kinds of combustion which lead to acute and chronic effects to respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Pet dander and hair, carpet, rugs, upholstery furniture are main source of dust mites, fungus, and bacteria. A dirty filter of air conditioners acts as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes, other tobacco products and mosquito coil emits VOC’s and formaldehyde and various particulate matters. CO2 released from our lungs is exhaled in the air which pollutes the air if the place is too crowded or there is less ventilation.
Harmful effects All these can trigger coughing, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, dry mouth, vomiting, digestive tract problems, depression, allergy and asthma attacks, and other respiratory illness.
Shower, faucets and other water sources are main cause of humidity and mold. Bathroom cleaners and personal care products like toothpaste, soaps, facial tissues, detergent, fabric softeners, air fresheners, deodorizers, hair sprays, disinfectants, are full of VOC’s and chemicals which emits harmful pollutants.
Harmful effects Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory ailments. VOC’s and toxic chemicals released in the bathroom can causes eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and respiratory problems. All these products release harmful pollutants while they are used also when they are stored.
A bedroom contains many sources of indoor air pollution. Mattress, pillow and blankets, soft toys, are the reservoirs of dust mites, fungi and bacteria. Furniture, carpets, paints and beauty product like hairspray, nail polishes, perfumes, deodorants etc off gas VOC, formaldehyde and toxic gases into the air.
Harmful effects These pollutants make the air unhealthy which leads to allergy, asthma attacks, dizziness, headache, fatigue and other respiratory ailments.
Second-hand smoke Second hand Smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Passive smoking can lead to coughing, excess phlegm, and chest discomfort. NCI (National Cancer Institute) also notes that spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), cervical cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, nasal sinus cancer, decreased lung function, exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, and negative cognitive and behavioral effects in children have been linked to ETS. Secondhand smoke exposure commonly occurs indoors, particularly in homes and cars. Secondhand smoke can move between rooms of a home and between apartment units.
Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices The air filter in your HVAC system is the front line of defense against poor indoor air quality. A typical central heating and cooling system circulates over 1,000 cubic feet per minute of air through the filter. This means the entire air volume in your house passes through the filter multiple times every day. A dirty filter, however, can actually make indoor air quality worse by acting as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. In addition to driving up your utility bill, a clogged air filter will allow all that dust and debris that should be filtered out to be re-circulated back into your home. This can cause chronic allergies and especially be dangerous for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.