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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Air pollution can affect your child’s mental health and IQ

Exposure to air pollution can impact a child's vocabulary, learning and memory abilities.

October 16, 2018 5:59:10 pm
air pollution and IQ Protect your child from pollution, (Source: Dreamstime)

The impact of taking in impure air on children’s IQ is as bad as with expectant mothers smoking 10 cigarettes a day.

By Jai Dhar Gupta

Air pollution has a deadly impact on mental health as well as physical health. Though we are well aware of the physical affects, did you know that air pollution can prove hazardous to children’s mental health?

There are no exceptions to who is getting affected by the perils of air pollution whether we are aware or not. However, children are the most vulnerable and the effect in the critical stages of early development can be devastating. A new study has confirmed the impact on the children’s IQ and intelligence tests. The impact of taking in impure air in children’s intelligence is as bad as the impact of expectant mothers smoking 10 cigarettes a day.

The study conducted on 202 children aged 8-11 years in Boston, observed children’s cognitive functions on being exposed to carbon dioxide from motor vehicles exhaust fumes. They found that the exposure impacted their vocabulary, learning and memory abilities. Pollution causes inflammation in the brain and thus the damage. The primary culprit is smog—ground level pollution comprised of vehicle and smokestack emissions that can form a dense haze on and near busy roadways. So living in a polluted area may have long lasting and detrimental effects on your child’s ability to reason, to communicate and solve problems.  Research has also found that boys are more likely to experience the adverse effects as compared to girls. Similar studies in China have confirmed the above findings.

If expectant mothers are exposed to pollution, then babies born have lower IQ levels as compared to children who are not exposed to such levels of pollution. Some researchers believe that traffic pollution acts like secondhand smoke, restricting the intake of oxygen and nutrients that are needed by the foetus. This affects the human cell development and causes problems later in life.

So, what is the solution? Air purifiers, easily available in the market these days, can be used at home to improve the quality of indoor air. These appliances trap the contaminants in the air, thus creating fresher and better quality air for everyone. These devices come in different forms such as portable air purifiers for cars. You can carry these air purifiers with you if required, resulting in better and purer air that can breathe in. Another option that is increasingly common is the use of anti-pollution face masks. This wearable has been engineered with extreme care and precision to filter out poisonous gases and particulate matter, thus protecting users from detrimental effects of air pollution. These masks are certified by global third parties to endorse effectiveness. The masks come in all sizes and under different brands.

To a large extent, technology has helped us unravel the cause behind so many abnormal phenomena in a developing foetus, newborns, children and adults. The purpose of being aware is to be able to do something about it. To meet safety standards, there are abundant means and ways available to us.

Air pollution has a massive impact on the mental health of children especially; even a single point drop in the IQ is enormous both tangibly and intangibly to the child, family, community, society and the nation.

(The writer is Founder, Nirvana Being.)

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