New research suggests that air pollution can be a harmful threat for children. Analysis shows that kids as young as 5 years old are developing high blood pressure due to air pollution. The children developed high blood pressure when they are exposed to short-term air pollution, long-term fine air pollution, and even when they are exposed to nitrogen dioxide which is emitted from traffic exhaust.
Exposure To Air Pollution Can Be Harmful To Children
“It’s not surprising in the sense that we have been concerned about air pollution affecting cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Richard Kovacs, the clinical director of Krannert Institute of Cardiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, in Indianapolis.
He also added, “What’s surprising and what’s new here is how early in life this is affecting people, especially raising their blood pressure, which can have lifelong consequences.” The research was published online on May 4 in the Journal of American Heart Association.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “The children who are exposed to the air pollution and get affected by that have more chances that they would carry it to their adulthood which could increase risk of heart strokes and many diseases related to the heart.”
The research is based on the data of around 350,000 children, of age between 5 to 12 years. The short-term exposure to PM10 was linked with increased systolic blood pressure in children. Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure inside arteries when the heart pumps the blood out.
In the same way, in the long term when the children are exposed to long term particles i.e. PM2.5, and also the exposure to PM10 pollution can lead to an increase in both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Diastolic refers to the pressure in the arteries when the heartbeats.
The air pollution particles include dust, smoke, dirt, soot, drops of liquid, etc. and could be emitted from various sources like power plants, vehicles, factories, construction sites, etc. “They weren’t able to dissect how long an exposure to air pollution it took, but if you’re developing high blood pressure between age 5 and age 12, obviously it doesn’t take a long time or a long exposure to polluted air to begin to see these effects,” Kovacs said.
He added that air pollution can increase children’s blood pressure by putting stress on their bodies. Smog could also impact their flexibility. “Our specialty societies are seeing air pollution now as a cardiovascular risk, up there with blood pressure and tobacco use and cholesterol,” Kovacs said.
He also pointed that “Although it hasn’t been, as they say, ‘in our lane’ as cardiovascular specialists, I think many of us now feel this is in our lane. This is part of population health, this is part of public health, and it needs a lot more emphasis.
“Air pollution is the fourth leading cause of death around the world, with as many as 9 million deaths each year caused by bad air, said Dr. Sanjay Rajagopalan, who is the director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute.