As children head back to school after summer break and schools open their doors after months of closure, it’s important for parents to inquire about the indoor air quality of their child’s school.

Given the number of hours spent in school, indoor air quality can affect children. While poor air quality might not have an effect on every student.

Air pollution can considerably affect children’s health

Studies have shown that air pollution is strongly associated with respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma, among others. It can also exacerbate underlying health issues and prevent children from going to school and there is emerging evidence that it can disrupt physical and cognitive development. Left untreated, some health complications related to air pollution can last a lifetime.

Climate change already threatens the well-being of children.
Cutting back on fossil fuel combustion and investing in renewable energy sources can help reduce both air pollution and greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The multiplier effect of reducing fossil fuel combustion on the wellbeing of children stands to be enormous.

Furthermore, children’s immune systems are still developing, especially at young ages. During early childhood, children are highly susceptible to viruses, bacteria and other infections. This both increases the risks of respiratory infection and reduces the ability of children to combat it. Moreover, the effects of air pollution on a child can have lifelong health implications.  Air pollution can impair the development of children’s lungs, which can affect them through to adulthood. Studies have shown that the lung capacity of children living in polluted environments can be reduced by 20per cent – similar to the effect of growing up in a home with secondhand cigarette smoke.14 Studies have also shown that adults who were exposed to chronic air pollution as children tend to have respiratory problems later in life.

We need better monitoring of air pollution. Air quality can fluctuate rapidly in every environment. 
For example, cooking or heating with biomass in the home can cause a rapid spike in indoor air pollution. Urban outdoor pollution spikes during rush hour in most cities. Waste-burning tends to be practised at certain times of the day in many places.

Monitoring systems can help individuals, parents, families, communities and local and national governments become more aware of how air pollution might affect them, and adjust to immediately prevailing conditions to minimize exposure. These measures will not in themselves stop the problem of air pollution – but they are a necessary and important first step. The more we know about air pollution, the better we can figure out how to protect children from its negative effects.

Connect with us to know more on how to monitor and solve these problems.

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