(Last Updated On: March 24, 2023)

How Does Indoor Air Pollution Affect Babies and Children?

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By Marriott Battle

12 min read

You have so many things to worry about that might harm your baby. It is important to give children the safest and best life, but what you do not know is that indoor air pollution might be silently hurting your child. 

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So What Is Indoor Air Pollution, and What Causes It?

To define air pollution, one must first understand indoor air quality (IAQ). This is the quality in or around buildings such as your home or work environment. If the air quality in or around these buildings is terrible, indoor air pollution will also be harmful. 

Many factors cause air pollution. Usually, these factors can be traced to sources that release gases or particles and inadequate ventilation. High temperatures and humidity also increase indoor air pollution. Some of the most notable causes of indoor air pollution are fuel-burning combustion appliances such as gas heaters or fireplaces, tobacco products, excess moisture and radon, pesticides, or outdoor pollution. 

What Are The Effects Of Air Pollution?

Some effects will not appear for months or even years after the indoor air pollution has already hurt you or your children. These effects could look as normal as irritated eyes, nose, or throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. If your child struggles with one or many of these ailments, you might have indoor air pollution. If your child suffers from long-term adverse effects from indoor air pollution, they might contract heart disease, respiratory disease, or even cancer. So you must test your indoor air quality and make sure that it is safe for your child. 

How Indoor Air Pollution Affects Babies and Children Specifically

Babies and children are more susceptible to negative air quality because their lungs are still growing and because they are, in general, more active than the older generations, so they inhale more air. After birth, eighty percent of an infant’s lung still needs to develop. That means that to have a healthy baby, you must have clean air for them to breathe in. The lungs are not fully grown until the child becomes an adult, so they are constantly more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.  

Babies and children are more at risk for indoor air pollution because the body’s defense to fight off infections is also not fully developed until the child comes into adulthood. This is one reason children have more respiratory infections than adults do and why they struggle with air pollution more than adults. 

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The effects of air pollution may also show up before the baby is even born. Many studies have shown that outdoor and indoor air pollution has increased the risk of preterm birth. Often, when pollution spikes, preterm births spike as well.

The Different Types and Effects of Air Pollution 

If your child is or was affected by asbestos, it may be hard to identify the cause. Some tools used to determine exposure to asbestos are a chest x-ray, physical examination, or a specialist. Asbestos exposure can result in long-term diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. 

To discover more ways to protect your children from asbestos, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has some preventative measures explained here.

Another element that promotes indoor air pollution is biological contaminants. These include bacteria, viruses, animal dander or saliva, dust and mites, cockroaches, and pollen. One must also be careful to avoid standing water or water-damaged materials, as these are often where bacteria and mold are created. These are usually unavoidable, and to shield your child or baby from these would be nearly impossible.

One action you can take to ensure the safety of your healthy baby and the negative effect these biological pollutants can have is to keep your home relatively humid. This is usually at a thirty-to-fifty percent in air quality. Air purifiers are also necessary when one wants to have a clean living space and good air quality. Another option to alleviate the pollution that results from biological contaminants would be to install exhaust fans. Also, maintain a clean home and make sure to clean any dust that might have formed.

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If your child has been exposed to biological contaminants, they might trigger allergic reactions such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis, and asthma. Other effects could result in sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy, a fever, or digestive problems.

Other pollutants that can contribute to indoor air pollution are carbon monoxide, cookstoves, certain wood products, pesticides, radon, secondhand smoke, or different types of smoke. While it may seem impossible to guard your child against getting hurt or exposed to any or all of these pollutants, it is necessary to know the dangers that can occur from them.

For your child to grow up healthy and protected from the adverse effects of air pollution, you must seek to take the necessary measures to safeguard your home from being a risk.

How Air Purifiers Can Help 

Air purifiers are essential products to invest in for good air quality and safety. Proper air purifiers will diffuse any of the problem pollutants and minimize the harmful effects of air pollution. While you might not have too much control over what your child is exposed to outside your home, you can feel more at ease knowing that they are in a safe and clean environment inside your home.

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