How Climate Change and Air Pollution Affect Kids’ Health

Climate change affects everyone, but especially children. Their small bodies—and the fact that they grow so rapidly, starting from the time they’re in utero—make them more vulnerable to toxins, pollution, and other climate-change fallout. Over their lifetimes, kids also face greater exposure to the damage of climate change than adults.

A new scientific review article published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows just how dangerous climate-related threats are to children’s health. The researchers analyzed data about the specific effects of a rapidly warming planet and found that climate change, driven in large part by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, harms children’s mental and physical health from the time they are in the womb through childhood—with potentially lifelong effects. These dangers threaten many aspects of children’s health, from the development of their lungs, to their intellectual ability, to their mental health. Socially and economically disadvantaged children are especially affected, but all children are at risk. “It’s not just polar bears on melting icebergs,” says study co-author Frederica Perera, director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. “There is direct harm, now, to children’s health—and certainly their future is being jeopardized in a major way.”
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Policies that shift countries away from fossil fuels to renewable, more efficient sources of energy are likely to improve kids’ health, the study authors say. Health professionals should also acknowledge and learn about the health risks of climate change to better help their young patients. “We know how to do it; we know alternatives, and they’re working in different countries,” Perera says. “We just have to speed the process up…and put into effect the solutions we know work.”

Here are three big threats that stem from climate change and threaten all children around the world, according to …read more

Source:: Time – Science

      

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