Skip to content

EHP logoISEE logo

2016 Conference

Abstract Number: ETH-12 | ID: 4810

Air Pollution and Children: how can we protect their health and prevent social inequality?

Sylvia Medina*, Sante Publicque France, , sylvia.medina@santepubliquefrance.fr;
Air pollution, which continues to be a public-health concern, has been recognised as a major risk factor for everyone, but especially for children and other vulnerable populations.
Exposure to air pollution in early life impairs the development of respiratory capacity (and has other health effects) with negative consequences for adult health and quality of life.
Some children are more exposed than others, particularly near heavily travelled roads and near industrial areas where populations already face other risk factors resulting in social inequality.
The highest levels of air pollution prevail in those parts of the world where economic growth is exploding. But, even in Western countries with slower growth, protecting populations from air pollution is not always a top priority, even for the protection of children.
The good news is that more and more interventions to reduce air-pollution levels are being implemented worldwide. The bad news is that some negative, indirect effects of these interventions are not always taken into account. For example, creating a low emission zone may diminish air-pollution levels in the city-centre, but increase them in the suburbs; or, closing a factory may reduce emissions, but cause unemployment with an impact on family health and life.
For the sake of equity, children and more vulnerable populations must be protected against exposure to air pollution. Only long-term, ambitious policies that serve their needs, as well as those of the general population around the world, can produce such change. Ethical dimensions of advocating for children’s health will be discussed in this session.