THE CONNECTION between climate catastrophe and air pollution, two interrelated problems affecting the environment and public health, is well established. In a gloomy assessment published earlier this year, the UN described how the climate catastrophe imperils “human well-being.” However, one extremely vulnerable population, whose health is most at risk, exists, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
We are discussing children, that’s correct. According to the study, health professionals need to do more to safeguard patients from the consequences of air pollution and global warming.
As part of a new monthly series titled “Fossil-Fuel Pollution and Climate Change,” the New England Journal of Medicine published a number of articles on Wednesday. In order to understand how much air pollution and climate change hurt children, the main review article in this series evaluates a vast quantity of evidence.
The study also makes recommendations for what doctors may do to reduce these joint health hazards, which are described as “substantial and expanding” in the paper.
THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE IS PROFOUND “Of particular concern is the cumulative impacts of air pollution and climate change on mental health,” the authors write.
Early childhood exposure to natural catastrophes, which are more common due to climate change, increases not only the “short-term risk of mental problems but also confers a lasting vulnerability to anxiety, depression, and mood disorders in adulthood,” according to the study.
Stress and other mental health issues can result from direct exposure to air pollution and disasters linked to climate change, such as through the news. Nearly 60% of young people, according to studies, are “worried” or “very worried” about climate change, according to the article.
According to Perera, “mental health impacts in children that have been related to both of these concerns from fossil fuels” are a concern.
CHILDREN’S DEVELOPMENT IS HARMED BY EXPOSURE TO AIR POLLUTION
The authors claim that the discharge of microscopic airborne pollutants known as PM2.5 caused by burning fossil fuels has resulted in a “parallel catastrophe” of air pollution.
The study’s authors note that air pollution and climate change, which are already having a significant negative impact on children’s physical and mental health, are especially dangerous for foetuses, infants, and children.
The analysis concluded that exposure to air pollution increases the likelihood of medical problems in children, both during foetal development and after birth. These potential issues could include, among others:
- birth defects and low birth weights
- rising asthma issues
- cognitive impairments
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is one example of a cognitive/attention issue (ADHD)
- Depression is a mental health issue.
- Children in London who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution were more likely to grow up with a serious
- depressive disorder.
RISK OF AIR POLLUTION FROM CLIMATE CHANGE COMPOUNDS
The study’s authors note that “concurrent exposure to climate threats and unhealthy air quality is typical.”
The paper claims that four or more climate threats, such as extreme drought, flooding, air pollution, and water scarcity, affect at least 850 million children, or about one in three children worldwide. Children are more prone to have several, interrelated health problems as the number of environmental dangers rises.
THE UNITED STATES’ CHILDREN ARE ALSO IN DANGER.
The report makes it very evident that not just youngsters in other nations are at risk for the health effects of air pollution and the climate issue.
However, some kiddos are more at risk than others from problems associated with air pollution and climate change. According to Perera’s research, “new evidence demonstrating that children in communities of colour and low-income neighbourhoods are most exposed and most sensitive to harmful consequences of air pollution and repercussions of climate change” is what worries her the most.
For instance, in a future with 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, Black children are one-third more likely than White children to reside in places with a high asthma diagnosis rate, frequently as a result of adjacent sources of air pollution, such as oil fields or industries.
The urban heat island effect, which is caused by fewer trees giving shade, dense buildings, and highways, is more likely to affect low-income neighbourhoods of race. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Harvey also have a worse impact on these historically underprivileged communities.
The authors wrote in their conclusion, “Protection of children’s health necessitates that health practitioners understand the numerous harms to children from climate change and air pollution and implement existing interventions to decrease these harms.
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