AirPollution and Respiratory Health among Children and the Elderly


Airpollution has been considered to have an impact of increasing themorbidity as well as the mortality associated with respiratorydiseases among the susceptible individuals such as the elderly andchildren. Ultrafine particles, especially those from combustionprocesses in vehicles, are deemed to have detrimental impacts becauseof high alveolar deposition, vast reactive surface area with attachedmetals, poor clearance, as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons(PAH), which are present on their carbonaceous core. Respiratoryillnesses due to poor air quality among the elderly and children canbe mild, but can turn out to be chronic. Therefore, air quality isexceedingly vital in determining the respiratory problems amid thesusceptible groups, which include the children and the elderly.Through reducing pollution and ventilating living rooms andhospitals, it would be possible to eliminate the environmental healthissue. This report will discuss air pollution and respiratory healthamong children and the elderly, and offer recommendation based on theissue.

Airquality has been considered a significant aspect, when it comes tothe health of the elderly and children. The level of air quality isof immense importance because it helps in eliminating respiratorydiseases. The functioning of the lungs has been indicated to beaffected by poor air quality, where they may even becomenon-functional. Health effects of air pollution exposure are chieflylinked to outdoor levels, monitored around residential areas.Nevertheless, most individuals from the susceptible groups spend mostof their time indoors. Despite traffic-related particles beingtransported indoors, it cannot be denied that the largest proportionof the indoor particles comes from different indoor sources. Suchindoor sources may include human activity, biological sources, officeequipment, tobacco smoke, and heating devices among others. Ultrafineparticles, especially those from combustion processes in vehicles,are deemed to have detrimental impacts because of high alveolardeposition, vast reactive surface area with attached metals, poorclearance, as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), whichare present on their carbonaceous core.

Thelungs have varying functioning depending with the level ofparticulate pollution. When there is low level of particulatepollution, the lungs are likely to function at an enhanced state.Alternatively, lungs are likely to function poorly when there is highlevel of particulate pollution. This shows why it is crucial toensure low levels of air pollution. According to different researchconducted by various professionals, the functioning of the lungs andlung-impairment in children has been associated with the exposure toambient air pollution. Also, the negative impacts of air pollution onthe lungs in children may have potential long-term effects forinstance, lung function that is lower than the projected value for ahealthy adult has been linked with an increased risk of thecardiovascular disease as well as increased mortality rate.Therefore, air quality is a concern for children and the elderly asair that has low levels of pollutants supports the proper functioningof the lungs.

Significanceof the Issue

Theissue of air pollution and respiratory health among children and theelderly is of significance since it helps in understanding how theelderly and children can be affected, in terms of their respiratoryhealth, and how the effects can be mitigated so as to ensure enhancedrespiratory health. The environmental health issue can affectcommunities since it can lead to respiratory problems, which requirefinances to treat.


Airpollution and respiratory health among children and the elderly hasbeen viewed as a critical issue in the community setting since themalfunctioning of the lungs has resulted to increase in the mortalityas well as the morbidity of respiratory diseases. The exposure tohigh degrees of PM10 as well as nitrogen dioxide has been associatedwith breathlessness and coughs while high degrees of PM0.1 areassociated with wheeze in the last year of life. Alternatively, highconcentration of formaldehyde is associated with the chronicobstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Poor ventilations have also ledto poor air quality, which has an impact on the elderly and childrensince they remain indoors most of the time. Although relationshipsamid air pollution and respiratory illnesses are complex,epidemiologic studies have resulted to an increased recognition ofthe emerging significance of traffic-associated air pollution and thecontinued importance of emissions from domestic fires burning fuels.It is possible to eliminate the risk of adverse respiratory impactsof exposure to traffic air and biomass pollutants among the elderlyand children through awareness as well as promoting individual andcommunity-level engagements.


Accordingto Karottki et al. (2013), exposure to particulate air pollution hasan impact of increasing morbidity and mortality associated with therespiratory diseases, especially among the elderly. The underlyingbiological mechanisms are deemed to include oxidative stress as wellas inflammation. According to the research conducted by theseauthors, they concluded that the functioning of the lungs becomesenhanced in the case of the elderly, where the elderly are exposed toindoor air that has low levels of pollution. This is an indicationthat the functioning of the lungs relies on the degree of pollutantspresent in the air. Thus, the elderly would have enhancedlung-functioning when there are less or no contaminants in the air.

Inanother research concerning air pollution and respiratory healthamong the elderly, Seegert (2015) desired to establish the adverseimpacts of poor air quality in the nursing homes across differentcountries. The research studied pollutant levels at 50 nursing homesin seven countries Sweden, Poland, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium,and Denmark. Every participant was required to undergo differentclinical tests, which included lung-functioning test. The results ofthis study indicated that even at low levels of pollution, indoor airquality affects respiratory health of the elderly people living innursing homes. These impacts became modulated by ventilation.According to Seegert (2015), there is a need to improve ventilationsin buildings so as to prevent air pollution in buildings.

Also,according to Gauderman et al. (2015), exposure to ambient airpollution is linked with lung-function impairment in children.Mitigated lung function in children is associated with an increasedrisk of asthma. The authors posit that although there is a progressin the United States to reduce the outdoor levels of different airpollutants, it has not been established whether the reductions havebeen linked with improvements in the respiratory health of children.Thus, according to this study, for proper functioning of the lungs inchildren, there is a need for exposure to air having reduced or nopollutants.

Jaakkolaet al. (1991) indicate that children living in areas having sulfurdioxide have showed an increased occurrence of respiratory symptomsas well as upper and lower respiratory tract illnesses. According tostudy conducted by Jaakkola et al. (1991), children in more pollutedregion had more infections compared to children from less pollutedregion. The research concluded that children’s respiratory healthcan be put in danger because of exposure to air pollution. Also,there is a strong relationship between upper respiratory infectionsin children and living in an air-polluted region. Furthermore,Gehring et al. (2010) indicate that an exposure to traffic-associatedair pollution has the possibility of causing asthma in children.


Fromthe research, it is apparent that air pollution affects therespiratory health of the elderly and children since it affects thefunctioning of the lungs. However, it is possible to address thisenvironmental concern. One of the actions that the government shouldconsider taking in dealing with the issue is coming up with ways ofmitigating or eliminating the sources of air pollution. Such a movewould help in handling the issue. Also, the government should focuson creating awareness concerning the issue and educating communitieson the effects of the concern and how they can reduce the impacts.This would ensure a healthy living through mitigating pollution.Furthermore, an innovative strategy that can be implemented inresolving the issue concerns ensuring that all the living roomsbecome well-ventilated as well as hospital rooms so as to avoidindoor air pollution, which would resolve the issue.


Thefunctioning of the lungs has been indicated to be affected by poorair quality, where they may even become non-functional. Healtheffects of air pollution exposure are chiefly linked to outdoorlevels, monitored around residential areas. Nevertheless, mostindividuals from the susceptible groups spend most of their timeindoors. It is important to resolve the issue because it can lead tohealth problems and complications. An effective way of handling theissue is through eliminating pollutants and creating awareness on theissue.


Gauderman,J.W., Urman, R., Avol, E., Berhane, K., McConnel, R., Rappaport, E.,Chang, R., Lurmaaa, F. &amp Gilliland, F. (2015). Association ofImproved Air Quality with Lung Development in Children. TheNew England Journal of Medicine.

Gehring,U., Wijga, A.H., Brauer, M., Fischer, P., de Jongste, J.C., Kerkhof,M., Oldenwening, M., Smit, H.A. &amp Brunekreef, B. (2010).Traffic-related air pollution and the development of asthma andallergies during the first 8 years of life. AmJ Respir Crit Care Med.

Jaakkola,K.J., Paunio, M., Virtanen, M. &amp Heinonen, P.O. (1991). Low-LevelAir Pollution and Upper Respiratory Infections in Children. AmericanJournal of Public Health,Vol. 81 (3).

Karottkiet al. (2013). Anindoor air filtration study in homes of elderly: cardiovascular andrespiratory effects of exposure to particulate matter. EnvironmentalHealth,DOI:10.1186/1476-069X-12-116.

Seegert,L. (2015). Linkbetween air quality, residents’ lung health seen in Europeannursing homes. Associationof Health Care Journalists.