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Blog Action Day: Air Pollution is Harmful to Babies and Cuts Life Expectancy

The air we breath sustains our lives. Air pollution has many negative effects to the human body, and young children are especially vulnerable. In fact, air pollution has been linked to birth defects.

According to the LA Times,

“the harmful effects of dirty air can extend even into the womb. More than a dozen studies in the United States, Brazil, Europe, Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan have linked smog to low birth weight, premature births, stillbirths and infant deaths.”

Of course, automakers, the steel industry, the US Department of Energy, etc. question the results. A 2001 UCLA study found that even women living in areas that met federal standards for carbon monoxide and ozone, “were three times more likely than others to have babies with cleft lips and palates and defective heart valves.” Hmm, perhaps this is the reason for my son’s congenital heart defect (CHD) and the fact that 1 in 200 babies suffers from some form of CHD. According to the study, the greatest risk from pollution occurs during the second month of pregnancy, when major organs and facial structures are forming. Air pollution reaches unborn fetuses through the umbilical cord. Furthermore,

“A study by scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Basel in Switzerland concluded that as many as 11% of infant deaths in the United States–about 3,000 per year–may be a result of microscopic particles in the air.”

In addition, carbon monoxide has has been linked to low birth weights and particulate matter to premature birth.

“Another study by UCLA researchers, which was published last year and focused on Southern California, concluded that mothers are 20% more likely to have a baby prematurely when exposed to elevated amounts of microscopic particles in the final six weeks of pregnancy…In a 1998 study of pregnant women in Sao Paulo, Brazil, scientists found that women exposed to high levels of nitrogen and sulfur oxides were 18% more likely to have their pregnancies terminate in stillbirths.”

Recently, it was reported that pollution cuts life expectancy in Europe.

“Hundreds of thousands of people across Europe are dying prematurely because of air pollution, it said. “The estimated annual loss of life is significantly greater than that due to car accidents,” the report said.”

If it is happening in Europe, I am sure it is happening here. Pollution doesn’t just affect the environment and climate change, but it affects our health. We need a healthy environment to live in, and we need to have healthy habits to protect our environment. It is a symbiotic relationship.


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