According to the EPA, 1-in-10 American kids have childhood asthma, and the 7 million total is growing yearly.
The statistics also show that 57% of these children suffer from an asthma attack each year. These attacks can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
Children who have asthma are sensitive to certain things in the air which can trigger an attack. Most people are aware that an asthma attack can be caused by an allergic reaction from breathing in pollen, dust, or cigarette smoke.
However, many don’t realize that air pollution also plays an important role in the risk of asthma in children.
Ozone and Air Particle Pollution
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Ozone pollution is often referred to as smog. Smog is formed from the pollutants released into the air by sources such as automobile exhaust, factories, and power plants. Smog can sometimes be seen as a smoky fog or haze and is most prevalent in major cities with large amounts of traffic, as traffic is the most prominent source of the pollutants that cause smog.
Air particle pollution is made up of tiny particles of pollutants that are released into the air. Some common examples of particles that make their way into the air are dust, dirt, soot, and smoke.
Breathing in these particles can be harmful for your lungs and some smaller particles can even work their way into your blood stream.
Air particle pollution can occur indoors and outdoors, though the pollution levels are usually much lower indoors.
Always Check Air Quality Before Moving!
Ozone and air particle pollution is especially dangerous to children with asthma, as breathing in these pollutants can trigger an attack.
For this reason, it is important that in addition to checking out things such as the school system and crime rate, you also consider the level of air quality when deciding to move to a new area.
You can check the American Lung Association’s list of most polluted cities in 2017 to see how yours measures up.
6 Tips to Protect Your Child From Air Pollutants
There are many things you can do to protect your family from unhealthy air and to help prevent asthma in your child.
Following these tips can help protect your children from the dangers of pollution in the air.
1. Stay up-to-date on the pollution levels in your area.
There are several ways to check the pollution levels in your area on a daily or weekly basis.
You can check your local radio, news station, and newspaper or you can visit airnow.gov.
Knowing when air pollution is high in your area can help you take control of how much time your children spend breathing it in.
2. Don’t play outside on days of heavy pollution.
Keep play indoors on days when pollution is high in order to protect your children’s lungs from harmful pollutants.
A game of indoor hide and seek can be fun and allow your child to get exercise while breathing more healthy air.
3. Avoid spending time outdoors near high traffic areas.
Walking to the store instead of taking the bus can seem like a healthy decision for you and your child, but if the route will take you through high traffic areas then you are probably better off riding there.
This is because exercise causes you to breathe in more air, and if that air is full of pollutants from automobile exhaust it can do more harm than good.
4. Get involved with your child’s school.
Consider encouraging your child’s school to help reduce air pollution by monitoring the amount of time their school buses are left to idle and by educating students on the benefits of green alternatives for energy.
5. Reduce how often you drive.
If your route will take you away from high traffic areas, consider having your family walk or bike to your destination instead of driving.
Also, consider using more transit transportation systems such as buses or subways to avoid adding another car emitting exhaust to the road.
6. Don’t smoke indoors.
Secondhand smoke is harmful for everyone, but even more so for children. Secondhand smoke is an air pollutant that can linger in the air indoors and is a common cause of more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children.
Even if a cigarette is smoked indoors when a child is not around, the harmful particles will remain in the air where they can breathe them in later.
Ozone and air particle pollution pose a major health risk to children.
One of the best things we can do is to become active in supporting causes that are actively working at the state and national levels to clean up the environment.
In doing so, we can help keep it clean and healthy for many generations to come.