Indoor Air Quality: Part 1 - What It Is

Ann Pike-Paris


Pediatr Nurs. 2004;30(5) 

In This Article

What Makes Children Unique?

The field of pediatrics clearly identifies children as different from adults in a vast range of areas. The AAP (2003) identifies six stages from fetus to adolescent or 18 years. Children consume more oxygen (due to higher metabolic rates), and more food and water per pound of body weight than an adult (AAP, 2003). Rapid growth and development, potential for high levels of exposures due to their environment and immature detoxification systems are universal to all children (National Academy of Sciences, 1993).

From conception to adulthood, children move through windows of vulnerability unique to each stage of development. Tragedies resulting from fetal exposures during critical periods have been known for years: maternal consumption of alcohol, thalidomide, diethylstilbestrol, and mercury. Little research has been conducted regarding vulnerable childhood periods, which leaves practitioners with less certainty about when critical periods may occur. A growing body of evidence proves the consequences to children's health from lead, mercury, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), and pesticides. These hazards and more may be part of many children's daily indoor air environment. Recognizing the large number of hours spent indoors, children are put at risk from poor IAQ. What these contaminants are and where they come from is essential knowledge to reduce exposure and risk.


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