The World Health Organization
(WHO) released a report detailing the results
of a study claiming that unhealthy
environments are responsible for up to 25
percent of deaths in children younger than age
5. The report lists the outdoor and indoor
environmental risks that lead to premature
death in approximately 1.7 million children
worldwide annually. Amongst the top
offenders in contributing to pollution-related
deaths are: secondhand cigarette smoke,
ambient air pollution, and exposure to
chemicals from inadequately ventilated indoor
Children are especially vulnerable to air
pollution and the effects of exposure to
hazardous chemicals due to their developing
organs, immune systems, smaller bodies and
airways. Evidence suggests that harmful
exposures can start as early as in utero.
What do these results mean?
The report provides a comprehensive
overview the of air, water, and environmental
hazards that affect children’s health by
contributing to such problems as respiratory
infections and asthma, as well as increasing
their lifelong risk of disease. WHO finds most
of these environmental risks are preventable
with proper interventions.
The most important thing to take away from
the results of this study is that premature
death and disease can be prevented through
healthier environments. By learning more
about outdoor and indoor air quality and
taking steps to promote healthier air, we can
significantly reduce the number of children
that die every year as a direct result of being
exposed to air pollution.
What can I do to promote healthy indoor
air quality for my children?
First and foremost, do not smoke indoors or
allow anyone inside of your home to smoke.
Secondhand cigarette smoke can lead to
respiratory infections and trigger allergy and
asthma symptoms. Secondly, make sure
that your house has adequate ventilation,
especially above your stove. Always use
your hood vent when you are cooking.
Thirdly, limit use of products containing
harsh chemical ingredients inside of your
home. This includes: cleaners, detergents,
fragrances, shampoos, soaps, antibacterial
products, and air fresheners. Avoid buying
household products and furnishings made
from wood laminate or that are held
together with formaldehyde containing
If you have young children, consider purchasing a
Home Air Test annually to alert you to any
potential indoor air quality problems. By taking
preventative measures you can make sure your
air quality is safe and healthy for your children.