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Child Safety: Air Pollution

Overview

Children's lungs are especially sensitive to the harmful effects of air pollution. That's because they breathe faster than adults, which causes them to inhale a lot 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. And 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.

  • Don't take your child out when the air quality index is 151 or above.

    This index is often reported in the news. You can also go to http://airnow.gov to find it.

    footnote 1
  • Go outside early in the morning in the summer and on days where smog may develop.

    On days when 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

Current as of: September 20, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine