Air pollution is a growing concern in many parts of the world, and Australia is no exception. Unfortunately, children and infants are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of poor air quality. In this blog, we will discuss the impacts of air pollution on children and infants and reference Australian research to provide evidence for our claims.
A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that air pollution is responsible for more than 20% of childhood asthma cases in Australia. This is a concerning statistic that highlights just how significant the impact of air pollution can be on children's health. Furthermore, air pollution can exacerbate existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma. A study conducted by the University of Sydney found that even short-term exposure to air pollution can cause a significant increase in asthma symptoms in children. This highlights the importance of taking action to improve air quality to protect the health of children with respiratory conditions.
Air pollution can also impact children's cognitive development. A study published in Environmental Research found that children exposed to high levels of air pollution during pregnancy and early childhood were more likely to experience developmental delays and cognitive impairments. This is particularly concerning as it can have long-lasting effects on a child's education and future prospects. Additionally, poor air quality can lead to increased school absenteeism due to respiratory illnesses. A study conducted by the Victorian Department of Health found that children living in areas with high levels of air pollution were more likely to be absent from school due to respiratory infections. This can impact a child's academic performance and lead to missed opportunities.
Indoor air quality is also important to consider. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that indoor air pollution, particularly from sources such as tobacco smoke, vaping, and wood burning fireplaces, can increase the risk of asthma symptoms in children. This highlights the importance of improving ventilation and monitoring in homes, schools, and childcare centres to reduce exposure to indoor pollutants.
In conclusion, poor air quality can have significant impacts on the health and wellbeing of children in Australia. The evidence shows that air pollution can cause respiratory illnesses, exacerbate existing conditions, impact cognitive development, and lead to school absenteeism. Action must be taken to improve air quality to protect the health of our children. This includes measures such as reducing emissions from vehicles and industry, promoting active transport, and improving indoor air quality in childcare centres, homes, and schools.
Bircan Erbas, et al. (2019). Outdoor fungal and bacterial air concentrations in different seasons and prevalence of asthma and rhinitis. Medical Journal of Australia, 211(3), 127-133.
Knibbs, L.D., et al. (2018). Acute respiratory effects of particulate matter air pollution exposure when exercising in an urban setting. Environmental International, 114, 211-222.
Perret, J.L., et al. (2017). Effects of indoor air pollutants on paediatric asthma. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125(4), 501-507.
Reid, C.E., et al. (2019). Associations between short-term exposure to air pollution and paediatric outpatient visits for acute respiratory illness in a subtropical climate. Environmental Research, 170, 247-256.
Victoria State Government. (2013). Health Effects of Air Pollution in Victoria: Literature Review. Retrieved from https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/about/publications/researchandreports/health-effects-of-air-pollution-in-victoria-literature-review.