• Joao Fernandes

The Importance of Pure Air for Children

Updated: Oct 6

Why poor air quality affects children the most


Step outside. Step inside. Wherever you go, the air quality should not matter. It should be a given that breathing pure air is as important as drinking clean water. Currently this is not the case as over 300 million children breathe toxic air in conditions that surpass international limits six-fold. No one can remain impartial when faced with the fact that 2 billion children are living in areas that exceed the World Health Organisation’s annual limit of 10 μg/m3 (the number of micrograms of ultra-fine particulate matter per cubic metre of air that constitutes a long-term hazard). Living surrounded by high levels of carbon monoxide has been seen to cause more harm to a foetus than a mother smoking 10 cigarettes every day. A child that has not been born yet may already be physically and cognitively hindered.


Why even think about your future when you are knowingly poisoning it?


The answer to this is rather simple. The future is not an “it”, but a “them” – and not only do children deserve to have a healthy life in the future, they also deserve to enjoy their current life with the people that love them. The concept that ‘actions speak louder than words’ is seldom associated with a positive situation and often bears a feeling of regret. Let us not forget that “we” deserve to live a pure life now; a life that allows humanity to live in harmony and achieve their maximum potential; sustainable evolution for both humanity and the planet. Next time that you take a breath, do it consciously – breathe pure air for yourself and do not forget “them”.


“Protecting children from air pollution requires actions to reduce air pollution, reduce children’s exposure to it and better monitor it.”

Unicef

Poor air quality is one of the most significant negative outcomes of production and consumption across all industries. We cannot disregard the negative effects and face them later because this will impair us now. For any living being, the process of breathing has been mechanised to run unconsciously, so that we do not forget to breathe. Monitoring our environment, contrastingly, must be conscious as it is critical to increase our awareness and knowledge of our health.



What does Pure Air mean?


1 – Quality of Life

Meeting global air quality guidelines (PM2.5) can avert 2.1 million deaths across all demographics every year.


2 – Performance

Working in a location with good air quality has a pronounced effect on both cognitive and physical performance.


3 – Economic Prosperity & Climate Change

Taking action and investing to diminish air pollution can increase economic prosperity and fight climate change.


Eating pollution every day


Volume. The larger something is, the higher and more significant the exposure to both good and bad “things” – in the case of air quality, let’s call these “elements”. A single human breathes about 450 litres of air per hour which is far higher than the volume of water that we ingest. The air that one breathes inevitably contains malignant elements – contaminants - hence, the higher the volume of air ingested, the worse it becomes for any living being to digest. A child’s airway lining is not only more permeable but also smaller. This, combined with the fact that children breathe twice as fast (ingesting a larger amount of air proportion to their body weight), may be deadly if they develop infections. A study of twelve Southern California communities with varying levels and types of air pollution revealed that reduced lung function was apparent in children who spent more time outdoors as these areas exhibited high levels of ozone, most likely from vehicle emissions.

A mother protecting her child from contagion and poor air quality

A human being consists of a series of connected systems which, in turn, implies that the contaminants will be spread through the entire body. Picture a small child that, in every sense of the word, is going through a period of immense growth. New cells will be thwarted from good development and when these cells multiply, the problem exacerbates. Chronic illness may easily arise from this, unavoidably impacting their quality of life now and in the future. Lower-income regions tend to experience this more severely not only due to lower hygiene standards and less disposable income but also because factories and industrial activity are commonly located near these regions. Aggravating this is the use of inexpensive biomass fuels for heating and cooking which worsens indoor air pollution.


Due to the rapid evolution of mankind within the last couple of centuries, health and the environment have been put somewhat on hold. Mankind’s impact on the environment has been consistently negative; causing steady destruction of ecosystems for the reckless, incessant pursuit of economic development. Since the development of humanity’s “advanced” cognitive functions, overachievement has become as much of a human trait as reproduction. It is, however, when this approach begins to negatively impact others, that a reassessment of the actions taken needs to be made.


Trapped in our own "freedom"


The so highly regarded concept of “freedom” becomes hypocritical when we are in fact imprisoning ourselves in a suffocating environment. It seems that the more we express our freedom, the more we imprison ourselves in an unhealthy and undoubtedly unsustainable environment. Driven by factors such as ego, and profit maximisation, companies have been reluctant to tackle issues that compromise both their top and bottom-line. Companies act to a large extent to increase productivity by a couple of percentage points. Studies conducted in a Chinese call centre have shown that productivity falls 5 to 6 per cent on more polluted days which, if not for health and safety reasons, may be useful in convincing management to adopt measures to mitigate contaminated air.


For the profit maximiser out there, it is expected that this will impact their top-line, bottom-line and any other line in between because people are at the inner core of any business. The irony of those who turn a blind eye to this issue is that once they leave their weekly factory visit, leave their office, and get home to their family, the issue persists. This behaviour, that of ingesting contaminated air, is currently perpetuating an unhealthy lifestyle for those lucky enough to be considered alive on this planet.



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