Child Safety: Air Pollution

Topic Overview

Smog and particulate matter (such as pollen, soot, and dust) are examples of air pollution. Children's lungs are especially sensitive to the harmful effects of air pollution, because they breathe rapidly and inhale a high concentration of pollution relative to their weight.

Use care when you take your young child outdoors, especially for physical activities. When children exercise, they breathe more heavily than normal. Also, they breathe more through their mouths than their noses. This allows pollution to be inhaled more deeply into the lungs where it can cause permanent damage.

  • Do not take your child out when the air quality index is 151 or above.1 This index is often reported in the news. You can also find it at http://airnow.gov.
  • Go outside early in the morning in the summer and on days where smog may develop. On days that air is stagnant and temperatures reach over 90°F (32°C), smog levels usually peak in mid-to-late afternoon.
  • Stay away from areas with heavy traffic.

References

Citations

  1. Environmental Protection Agency (2011). Air Quality Index (AQI): A guide to air quality and your health. Available online: http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.aqi.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised November 26, 2012

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