Protecting your children from indoor air pollution

Children are one of the most vulnerable groups of people when it comes to air pollution-caused illnesses. The World Health Organization (WHO) gives a grim and shocking statistic by estimating that 93% of children below the age of 15 breathe polluted air; they claim, furthermore, that the air inhaled by the vast majority of the world’s population is so polluted that it has serious adverse effects on children’s development, health, and well-being. Acute respiratory infections caused by air pollution kill 600,000 children a year (based on a 2016 figure)1.

Numbers like this are hard to swallow, especially knowing that indoor air pollution is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air (sometimes reaching up to 100 times more polluted). What can we do to protect our own children from the dangers of indoor air pollution, considering that we spend 80% of our time indoors? Below we will discuss what, exactly, is air pollution, why kids are more vulnerable, and how an air purifier can help.

Child wearing a mask

What is indoor air pollution?

Air pollution is when one or more contaminants are present in the air that can be dangerous to our health and well-being. As the Earth’s population continues to grow (as of 15 November 2022, the Earth’s population reached 8 billion), the number of vehicles on the road generating dirty emissions will continue to grow, as will demand for industry to create polluting products to satisfy the rising population.

Indoor air pollution, on the other hand, is when air pollutants are present in indoor spaces. These pollutants come either from outdoors (and, due to the airtight nature of many buildings, they become trapped) or the use of polluting products and substances indoors. Indoor pollutants are omnipresent and are found at home, at school, in cars and school buses, and in most other indoor environments.

According to the WHO, indoor air pollution was responsible for 3.2 million deaths in 2020 alone, 237,000 of which were children under the age of 51. Indoor air pollution, also known as household air pollution, has been linked to many diseases and health problems amongst adults and children alike including:

  • Increased rates of multiple types of cancer (especially lung and laryngeal cancer), cardiovascular disease, asthma, and allergies
  • Low birth weight in infants (LBW)
  • Pregnancy complications

An increased risk of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression

Why are children more vulnerable?

There are various reasons why kids are more at-risk of disease, especially those diseases related to air pollution:

  • Children breathe more quickly and inhale more air per kilogram of bodyweight than adults through shorter airways, causing them to breathe in more air, thus increasing their exposure to a greater amount of pollutants
    • Children are also more active, and they breathe in more air than the average adult
  • Being of smaller size and living closer to the ground, they are in a position where pollutants are in peak concentrations1
  • Children’s lungs are not fully developed, and exposure to pollutants leads to biological disruption, especially through organ damage and inflammation
  • Kids have underdeveloped immune systems which puts them at high risk of more significant air pollutant intake and contracting diseases when exposed to pollutants2
    • Because their immune defence abilities are not yet sufficiently developed,  children’s bodies are more easily penetrable by air pollutants and detoxification is not as efficient as in an adult’s body4

Children of all ages are also at high risk of exposure to indoor air pollutants at school. Studies have found a link between indoor air pollution exposure and decreased academic performance and impaired cognitive abilities in young students. The air pollutants that have the biggest effect on children in schools include fine particle pollutants like PM10, PM2.5, NO2, and ozone. Multiple studies have found evidence of lower test scores at school due to decreased working memory, academic achievement, information retention, concentration, and reasoning abilities6,7.

    Child running through a field

    The effects of indoor air pollution on children

    Severity of the effects on health and well-being in kids due to air pollution exposure depends on certain factors including the length, concentration, and type of pollutant to which the child was exposed. Exposure to air pollution is harmful in both the short- and long-term. Short-term side effects of exposure to air pollution may include an itchy throat and eyes, sore throat, skin reactions, headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, and developing cold-like symptoms.

    Some more severe effects on health and well-being from air pollution in children are:

    • Respiratory effects
      • Impaired lung function
      • Impacted alveolarization
      • Pulmonary immune differentiation
      • Pneumonia in early childhood
      • Heightened incidence of asthma development
      • Increased risk of respiratory infection and allergies
    • Immune system effects
      • Increased T lymphocytes
      • Decreased B lymphocytes
      • Presence of natural killer cells
    • Effects on neurological development
      • Increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and addictive behaviours
      • Developmental delays
      • Development of thin brain cortex and decreased corpus callosum
    • Metabolic effects
      • Increase in rate of childhood obesity due to increased leptin levels
      • Higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes5

    What are some ways to protect our children from indoor air pollution?

    There are several things we can do to protect our kids from exposure to air pollution and its harmful health effects. Some of these include:

    1. Don’t smoke indoors or in a place that could expose your children to cigarette smoke
    2. Install a carbon monoxide detector at home
    3. If you have any appliances that burn gas, keep them in good condition and make sure to have them inspected once a year by a qualified technician (and make sure to ventilate well when they are in use)
      • Try to rely on cleaner fuels to cook and power your home whenever possible 
    4. Never leave a car idling in a garage if the garage, especially if the garage is attached to your home
      • Make an effort to go carless with your kids! Try to reduce your use of cars altogether on short journeys by prioritising public transportation or biking
    5. Use exclusively low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and other remodelling materials, and limit your uses of fragrances and sanitizing sprays
    6. Avoid the use of candles or air fresheners, notorious sources of VOCs
    7. Keep children safe at school and in cars with air purifiers3

    Fight indoor air pollution with Eoleaf

    In addition to the list above, a great and effective way to protect your kids from indoor air pollution is to install an air purifier in your home

    An air purifier uses an internal fan to pull in air from a specific room, uses various filtration technologies inside the device to treat the air, and removes unwanted particles. It then circulates the purified air back into the room. Some air purification devices, like those available at Eoleaf, have an automatic mode where they detect the level of pollution in your home and treat the air accordingly.

    Here at Eoleaf, we specialise in air purification and sell top-of-the-line air purifiers that use the most advanced, proven filtration methods on the market to reduce indoor air pollution. Our powerful devices eliminate the three main sources of harmful air pollution: particulate, chemical, and biological. All Eoleaf’s devices are equipped with HEPA-certified filters, meaning that our filters are capable of filtering 99.97% of particles of a size greater than or equal to a diameter of 0.01 µm in a single pass. They are capable of filtering out all fine particles and pollutants up to PM0.1, germs (bacteria and viruses), moulds and their spores, and allergens (pollen, dust mites).

    Our goal is to help protect you and your family from the dangers of indoor air pollution. Reach out to our team of air purification specialists or refer to our in-depth Buying Guide to find the right air purifier for your home.

    A child running near an Eoleaf AEROPRO 40 air purifier


    1 World Health Organization. (2018, October 29). More than 90% of the world's children breathe toxic air every day. World Health Organization. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from

    2 Singh, M. (2022, November 7). Air pollution: Here's How You Can Safeguard Yourself from the Adverse Effects. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from

    3 Kraisinger, K. (2022, March 10). 6 Ways to Protect Children from Air Pollution. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from

    4 Buka I, Koranteng S, Osornio-Vargas AR. The effects of air pollution on the health of children. Paediatr Child Health. 2006 Oct;11(8):513-6. PMID: 19030320; PMCID: PMC2528642.

    5 Johnson, N.M., Hoffmann, A.R., Behlen, J.C. et al. Air pollution and children’s health—a review of adverse effects associated with prenatal exposure from fine to ultrafine particulate matter. Environ Health Prev Med 26, 72 (2021). doi:10.1186/s12199-021-00995-5

    6 Lu W, Hackman DA, Schwartz J. Ambient air pollution associated with lower academic achievement among US children: A nationwide panel study of school districts. Environ Epidemiol. 2021 Nov 3;5(6):e174. doi: 10.1097/EE9.0000000000000174. Erratum in: Environ Epidemiol. 2022 Feb 25;6(2):e202. PMID: 34909554; PMCID: PMC8663889.

    7 Gartland N, Aljofi HE, Dienes K, Munford LA, Theakston AL, van Tongeren M. The Effects of Traffic Air Pollution in and around Schools on Executive Function and Academic Performance in Children: A Rapid Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jan 10;19(2):749. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19020749. PMID: 35055570; PMCID: PMC8776123.

    Eoleaf's range of air purifiers

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