The Alliance For A Clean Environment
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Why Our Children Are More At “Risk”…
As well as the elderly and those with preexisting conditions

Our children are our future and, as such, our greatest concern. Children are more susceptible to the affects of pollution because the cells in their bodies are still developing at a rapid pace. For this reason many agencies and organizations are stressing the need for increased awareness and a re-evaluation of existing regulations in an effort to protect our most precious commodity.

Asthma, cancer and leukemia, each of which is among the biggest killers of children, are on the rise within that demographic. Pollution is not only in our air, but also in our water, soil, food, etc. Recently identified concerns such as bioaccumulation (increased concentrations of toxins through accumulation as they move up the food chain) and the synergistic effects of chemical combinations have presented the scientific and medical fields with altogether new challenges. Research has been ongoing since the ‘80s in an effort to understand the cause behind alarming increases in the rates of asthma and cancer occurring in our children. It is important to focus a great portion of attention on children since they are the first to be affected.

Below are some quotes and excerpts from various organizations regarding their concerns for the health of children, elderly and those with preexisting conditions.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics; Child Health Issues for the Second Session of the 106th Congress.


  • Children are more vulnerable than adults to many pollutants. The cellular immaturity of children and the ongoing growth processes account for this elevated risk.

  • Children breathe more rapidly and inhale more pollutant per pound of body weight than do adults. Their airways are much more narrow than those of an adult. Thus, minor irritation caused by air pollution, which would produce only a slight response in an adult, can result in a dangerous level of swelling in the lining of the narrow airways of a child.

  • If during early childhood a person is highly exposed to air pollutants, the risk of long-term damage to the lungs increases.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics; Policy Statement; Volume 91; Number 6 Ambient Air Pollution; Respiratory Hazards to Children (RE9317)

“In many areas ozone concentrations peak in the mid-afternoon, when children are likely to be playing outside.”

“For example, ozone causes airway inflammation and hyper reactivity, bronchial epithelial permeability, decrements in pulmonary function, cough, chest tightness, pain on inspiration, and upper respiratory tract irritation. [1-7] Nonrespiratory effects associated with ozone exposure include nausea, headache, malaise, and decreased ability to perform sustained exercise.” [7-9]

“Field studies suggest that ozone effects on pulmonary function in children are much greater than would be predicted from chamber studies.” [19]

“Examples of health outcomes found to be correlated with air pollution levels include increased prevalence of chronic cough, chest illness and bronchitis (measured by questionnaire), hospital admissions for various respiratory conditions, and decrements in lung function.” [28-33]

“The federal ambient air standard for ozone of 0.12 ppm (averaged over 1 hour) contains little or no margin of safety for children engaged in active outdoor activity.”

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency; Office of Air & Radiation; Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards; Fact Sheet; Health and Environmental Effects of Particulate Matter.

“Studies estimate that tens of thousands of elderly people die prematurely each year from exposure to ambient levels of fine particles.”
“Studies also indicate that exposure to fine particles is associated with thousands of hospital admissions each year. Many of these hospital admissions are elderly people suffering from lung or heart disease.”
“The average adult breathes 13,000 liters of air per day; children breathe 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than adults.”
”Because children’s respiratory systems are still developing, they are more susceptible to environmental threats than healthy adults.”
“Exposure to fine particles is associated with increased frequency of childhood illnesses, which are of concern both in the short run, and for the future development of healthy lungs in the affected children.”
“Fine particles are also associated with increased respiratory symptoms and reduced lung function in children, including symptoms such as aggravated coughing and difficulty or pain in breathing. These can result in school absences and limitations in normal childhood activities.”

“More and more people are being diagnosed with asthma every year. Fourteen Americans die every day from asthma, a rate three times greater than just 20 years ago. Children make up 25 percent of the population, but comprise 40 percent of all asthma cases.”

Source: National Jewish Medical & Research Center, Environmental Lung Center

“The effects of air pollution experienced by the elderly are of interest since elder adults may already suffer diminished pulmonary function as a result of degenerative changes in the lungs.

Similarly, children are at greater risk for declining health following exposure to air pollution because their airways are narrower than those of adults. Moreover, children have significantly greater needs for oxygen relative to their size, breathing more rapidly and inhaling more pollutant per pound of body weight than do adults. Finally, children engage more frequently in outdoor activities where exposure to most air pollutants is greatest and ventilation rates significantly increased over resting rates.

Source: Center for Disease Control (CDC); MMWR Weekly

“During 1993-1995, an estimated 13.7 million persons in the United States reported having asthma, and from 1980 to 1994 the prevalence of self-reported asthma in the United States increased 75% (2).

Source: Children’s Environmental Health Project; The Center for Health; Environment and Justice

“Asthma in children has increased more than 72% from 1982 to 1994.”

There are many more sources that we could quote but these certainly make the point. ACE advocates the Precautionary Principle which states as follows:

"When an activity raises threat of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

If you would like to participate in or donate to this effort or any of the other campaigns, programs or projects we are currently involved in, please contact ACE.

Together we can make our community safer for our children, our families, and ourselves.

P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464

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