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Smog: All you Wanted to Know about the Health Effects of Air Pollution

  • Team Kidmish Dec 31, 2018

“No, No, wash your hands with soap before you touch your food.”
“Darling, don’t play with water so long, you will catch a cold!”
“Baby, cover your mouth when you cough.”
“No more mobile games today, go out run and play in the park.”

Sounds like your home? Doesn’t it?

So much running around and monitoring just to ensure your kids have a healthy lifestyle, robust health, proper exercise and don't face children’s health issues.

Being a mom is a tough job! Agree don’t you?

As parents, we take every step to ensure our kids get the most natural and healthy environment around them. We ensure a strict regimen so that our kids have healthy and hygienic habits. By making them aware of healthy habits you have ensured they will not face the maladies that young kids are often exposed to. Right!

But, how do you feel when despite your best efforts and healthy habits, air pollution starts to take a toll on your kid’s health? Anger, frustration, helplessness and an urge to understand and annihilate the demon “Smog” becomes the central theme of everything you do. But ever wondered what is this Smog and why it is so-so dangerous?

Smog: Why it is so dangerous?

Smog is basically a combination of air pollutants that create health issues when inhaled regularly. The word smog is formed to describe a combination of smoke and fog that engulfs our cities and takes away the sunshine from our lives(literally and practically).

Smog is formed when the air-pollutants exceed their normal levels and combine with sunlight to produce a fog like a screen by forming ozone. Ground level ozone causes respiratory problems and the burning eyes, the two most common health effects of air pollution.

Let us understand Smog better by understanding its various components and the problems they cause;

Sulphur Dioxide (SO2):

Chronic exposure to SO2 can cause shortness of breath, cough, bronchitis, prolonged colds, fatigue and even lead to asthma attacks.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2):

NO2 in high concentration causes decreased lung function and can result in acute respiratory disorders like bronchopneumonia, bronchitis, chronic fibrosis and bronchopneumonia.

Particulate Matter:

Particulate matter in heavy concentration is a known cause of Asthma and allergic alveolitis. Larger particles size may result in obstructive lung disease. High concentration of particulate matter causes a host of air pollution health risks like a cough, wheezing, chest discomfort and phlegm.

Carbon Monoxide (CO):

Severely affects lung tissues of infants which may result in decreased lung function.

Ozone:

Ozone at ground level can cause problems with eyes and nose, throat irritation, chest discomfort, cough etc. Prolonged exposure can cause lung inflammation and increase susceptibility to pulmonary bacterial infections and influenza.

Benzene, Lead and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC):

Benzene, lead and volatile compounds are the most dangerous of air pollutants and they are toxins that affect affecting virtually every system in the body (kidneys, nervous system, reproductive system and causes high blood pressure). They also have carcinogenic effects on humans. These also cause smog which further aggravates children’s health issues and cause respiratory disorders, lungs and eye irritation.

Why Smog is so dangerous for children?

Infants and young children have a much higher respiratory rate as compared to adults. This means they inhale a much higher amount of polluted air as compared to adults. Their organs and immune system are getting developed until they reach late teens. Developing organs and the immune system is at higher risk from any kind of toxins and pollutants.

Children not only absorb but also retain pollutants in their body longer than adults do. This invariably increases the air pollution health risks in children manifold.

There is strong evidence which suggests that prolonged exposure to air pollutants can hamper the development of lung function in children. It also causes various allergic reaction, cough, cold, wheezing and many other maladies. These air pollutants mix with other viruses and contaminations in our ambient air and diet and cause other health complications and behavioural problems in children.

7 steps to counter the menace of Smog for your children

The effects of smog are really bothersome and controlling it needs an effort from the society as a unit. However, until a more cleaner ambient air is not restored by government policies and our collective efforts as a society we should ensure the following for our children:

  1. Counter health effects of air pollution by keeping a real-time check on pollution levels and planning your kid's activities accordingly.
  2. Restrict outdoor activities and games to minimize the exposure to polluted air.
  3. Always use a good quality mask( N99 or N95 rated) to protect your kids while they are commuting or going out for any activity.
  4. Ensure that all the places(school, creche, day care etc.) where your child spends her day are aware of pollution levels and are taking adequate measures to keep a check on air quality.
  5. Install good quality HEPA air purifiers in your home to ensure the kids get fresh air at home.
  6. Give natural immune boosters like tulsi, haldi, gud to your children on daily basis.
  7. Reduce your overall carbon footprint to contribute towards a cleaner environment.

Conclusion

Smog is a real threat for the overall health of our society and children. To counter it we should collectively take steps to gradually eliminate the causes of air pollution. Reducing the use of private vehicles, substituting fossil fuel with clean energy sources and planting more trees can go a long way in improving our ambient air quality.
Until we achieve these goals let us spread awareness about the hazards and practices to counter the ill effects of smog. If you have any suggestions on this topic please leave your comments below.


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