Keep Your Children Safe From The Toxic Effects Of Air Pollution

By Consultant Pediatrician Dr. Priya Chandrasekhar

It is very disheartening to read that every fourth child loses its life because of air pollution and its effects. India, that attained freedom in 1947, but free air, water and freedom from diseases are what we should actually get. Recently, the administrators of the national capital had asked people to actually stay indoors and not use their vehicles (the Odd/Even Rule) because the air pollution index there had crossed the permissible levels and touched the dangerous mark.

While Delhi is soon off becoming the most polluted city in the world, the other Indian cities are not far behind and sooner than later, we might soon be facing a similar scenario. How do we rectify or manage this situation?

Here are a few tips for parents and children that will help them breathe, battle air pollution and live healthier:

Also read: WHO Report on pollution is worrisome. Here’s why

1. Make sure as a family, you and the children wake up early and exercise. Taking in lung fulls of fresh air is essential to remove the toxic antioxidants from the body. Exercise increases the hormones that stimulate the immune system thereby helping to decrease the infection.

2. Yoga and pranayama, in particular, helps in learning to breathe the right manner and in turn improves the oxygenation to the entire body.

3. Train the kids to walk/cycle to the school (if nearby). Carpooling or use of public transport helps lesser consumption of fuel, which in turn reduces the emission of sulphur dioxide and other toxic gases.

4. Kids love balloons! Get your kids to blow balloons, if they are too young to practise yoga and pranayama. This helps in improving their lung capacity.

5. Teach kids to sneeze or cough sideways- directing at their elbows or shoulder, rather than directly at their hands. This helps reduce the deposition of bacteria on the hands (palmar surfaces) and helps reduce the spread of infection.


6. Teach kids the importance of handwash. We all harbour enough virus and bacteria in our throats and nose (not necessarily only when sick). Simple methods like adequate and necessary handwashing can prevent transmission of respiratory infections.

7. India leads in respiratory diseases in children, and subsequent mortality due to increased rates of pneumonia. Let’s look to reverse that trend or reduce the numbers with the next generation with improved air quality.

8. Air purifiers and humidifiers can help reduce the indoor air pollution, which account for a significant rate of the poor air quality index. Find out the best ones in the market before you purchase for your home.

9. Make sure your refrigerator and air conditioners are CFC free. Try avoiding insect repellant sprays and mosquito repellant coils that are known to emit harmful toxins that irritate children’s throat.

10. Make sure you get your child adequately immunised against diseases like pneumonia and influenza. Investing in good health is more important than financial investments.

Let’s remember that a healthy child in a healthy house in a healthy neighbourhood will be the seed for a healthy India!

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Here are some products we found useful to help combat air pollution and help kids lead healthier lives.