Public concern regarding air pollution has increased rapidly in recent years. Because air pollution may present special problems in the pediatric age group, available information on the effects of various air pollutants on children has been reviewed with the purpose of: (1) defining the potential ill effects of air pollution in this age group, (2) making information regarding these effects readily accessible to pediatricians, and (3) delineating further areas of study which may be necessary to safeguard child health from this environmental hazard.
Three general conclusions became apparent to the Committee after reviewing more than 100 publications from the world literature dealing specifically with the health effects of air pollution on children * The first is that children as a group may serve to delineate more clearly the effect of air pollution on health. They (1) spend most of their lives and attend school in limited geographical areas where air quality and meteorological effects can be measured and school absenteeism may also be ascertained tamed, (2) are more susceptible to most respiratory infections, (3) are not largely affected by smoking because it becomes a factor in only a small subgroup, and (4) are not exposed to the occupational hazards to which many adults are exposed. Another observation is that some aspects of growth and development in children may be affected by certain air pollutants. Finally, our review of studies on air pollution in children has shown that the majority of publications have originated from countries outside the United States; this suggests a relative lack of serious consideration of the problem in this country.