Ambient air pollution: health hazards to children

Pediatrics. 2004 Dec;114(6):1699-707. doi: 10.1542/peds.2004-2166.


Ambient (outdoor) air pollution is now recognized as an important problem, both nationally and worldwide. Our scientific understanding of the spectrum of health effects of air pollution has increased, and numerous studies are finding important health effects from air pollution at levels once considered safe. Children and infants are among the most susceptible to many of the air pollutants. In addition to associations between air pollution and respiratory symptoms, asthma exacerbations, and asthma hospitalizations, recent studies have found links between air pollution and preterm birth, infant mortality, deficits in lung growth, and possibly, development of asthma. This policy statement summarizes the recent literature linking ambient air pollution to adverse health outcomes in children and includes a perspective on the current regulatory process. The statement provides advice to pediatricians on how to integrate issues regarding air quality and health into patient education and children's environmental health advocacy and concludes with recommendations to the government on promotion of effective air-pollution policies to ensure protection of children's health.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants / standards*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / prevention & control
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Child
  • Government Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / adverse effects
  • Organizational Policy
  • Ozone / adverse effects
  • Pediatrics
  • Public Health
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Societies, Medical
  • United States


  • Air Pollutants
  • Ozone
  • Nitrogen Dioxide