Air pollution and children's health

Pediatrics. 2004 Apr;113(4 Suppl):1037-43.


Children's exposure to air pollution is a special concern because their immune system and lungs are not fully developed when exposure begins, raising the possibility of different responses than seen in adults. In addition, children spend more time outside, where the concentrations of pollution from traffic, powerplants, and other combustion sources are generally higher. Although air pollution has long been thought to exacerbate minor acute illnesses, recent studies have suggested that air pollution, particularly traffic-related pollution, is associated with infant mortality and the development of asthma and atopy. Other studies have associated particulate air pollution with acute bronchitis in children and demonstrated that rates of bronchitis and chronic cough declined in areas where particle concentrations have fallen. More mixed results have been reported for lung function. Overall, evidence for effects of air pollution on children have been growing, and effects are seen at concentrations that are common today. Although many of these associations seem likely to be causal, others require and warrant additional investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / toxicity
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Bronchial Diseases / chemically induced
  • Child
  • Fetus / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / growth & development
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced
  • Ozone / adverse effects


  • Air Pollutants
  • Ozone