Playing with Fossils

Image from Unsplash 

Image from Unsplash 

Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

It is a truth universally acknowledged that kids are curious. They love playing with the environment around them; digging in the soil, scooping water from lakes and rivers and building forts under cloudy skies. But when the same environment they love is damaging to their health, parents are faced with a heartbreaking dilemma; prevent their kids from playing outside or keep them healthy.

Families within the radius of power- or coal-plants often experience air that is less than ideal for working or playing outside. They are at risk to detrimental health effects that researchers are just now beginning to understand. Frederica Perera from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University is working with colleagues on a study that looks at the “health effects of pollution and stress.”

Perera and her team are seeking out answers as to why pollution seems to affect children more than adults breathing the same air. Their initial answer:

“The immune system helps defend the body against infections and poisons, such as toxic chemicals. But in infants and children, the immune system has not yet finished developing. This means that the body is not fully protected from impacts such as breathing irritating or toxic pollutants, Perera explains.”

Children’s highly important development stage is impaired by the burning of fossil fuels and, even when the power plant may not seem close enough to harm, the affects can trickle down to the soil or water supply. Of the negative consequences are an increase of asthma and bronchitis, lowering of IQ due to affected brain cell development, and increased risk of cancer and disease.

One of the article’s largest calls to action comes at the end: “it’s important to remember that fossil fuel emissions contribute to both illness and climate change, and that children are having these health problems now.”

Now, is the time to make real change.


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