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Child Safety: Air Pollution - Topic Overview

Smog and particulate matter (such as pollen, soot, and dust) are examples of air pollution. Children's lungs are especially sensitive to the harmful effects of air pollution, because they breathe rapidly and inhale a high concentration of pollution relative to their weight.

Use care when you take your young child outdoors, especially for physical activities. When children exercise, they breathe more heavily than normal. Also, they breathe more through their mouths than their noses. This allows pollution to be inhaled more deeply into the lungs where it can cause permanent damage.

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  • Do not take your child out when the air quality index is 151 or above.1 This index is often reported in the news. You can also find it at http://airnow.gov.
  • Go outside early in the morning in the summer and on days where smog may develop. On days that air is stagnant and temperatures reach over 90°F (32°C), smog levels usually peak in mid-to-late afternoon.
  • Stay away from areas with heavy traffic.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 26, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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