With increasing population, environmental pollution has increased manifold in the last couple of decades. This affects human beings as well as other living things. But most vulnerable are infants and children. Environmental health risks for infants are more than adults because:
- Infants are exposed to more toxins in proportion to their weight as compared to adults. This is because they breathe more air, drink and eat more food per unit of their body weight.
- Infancy is just the very beginning of their life. So, the chances of the ill-effects of the toxin exposure manifesting themselves during adulthood are more.
- Infants at a stage where they crawl around the house and put things in their mouths are obviously more prone to exposure. This makes them more prone to exposure with pollutants that gather on the floor.
- Their immune system and digestive system has not yet matured. This puts them at a higher risk.
- Infants, being unaware of the risks, and unable to make the right choices to protect themselves are more vulnerable to the environmental health risks.
Key Environmental Risks For Infants
Below are some of the environmental risks that an infant can be exposed to, right inside the home or in the immediate outdoor surroundings:
Carbon monoxide, which is given out by household appliances like fireplaces, ovens or heaters. This gas is toxic in nature and carbon monoxide poisoning can be quite dangerous and even fatal. To avoid this, have all your appliances checked and serviced regularly by an authorized service provider. Watch this video for some easy carbon monoxide safety tips:
Many cleaning products give out harmful fumes. Also, they might leave behind residues to which an infant could easily be exposed. Use only those products that are mild and safe for babies.
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)
ETS is second-hand smoke. If someone smokes inside the house, it is extremely harmful for an infant. It heightens the risk of asthma in children and a range of other respiratory infections. Also, second hand smoke has a huge impact on the respiratory system of an infant when they grow up.
Pollutants due to burning of waste, emissions from exhausts of vehicles and power plants, etc. are quite harmful. These pollutants include compounds like nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. Try to avoid places with high pollution when you are with an infant. See other ways humans are impacting the environment.
Molds can grow in the damp spaces inside a house. Staying in places with molds can result in allergies and even asthma in babies. To avoid this, keep all surfaces dry. Keep humidifiers and air conditioners serviced regularly.
e-waste poses a health risk due to exposure to chemicals such as chromium, cadmium, and PCBs. Usually these chemicals are formed due to improper recycling methods. Potential health risks can be avoided by disposing of any electronic waster correctly.
Toxic chemicals used in pesticides get absorbed in the food chain and can affect anyone, but more so small babies who have just started eating food. Using natural alternatives and making the users aware of the harmful effects could help in unchecked use of pesticides.