Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, March 2019, Volume 2, #51
The rise in outdoor air pollution is associated with an increase in the population of pre-school children suffering from Eczema. Eczema is a skin disease where the skin becomes inflamed, itchy, red, and bleed. Sources of the pollution include vehicles and human production activities which involve the burning of fossil fuels. Coarse, fine (PM2.5), and ultrafine particles (PM0.1), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), emitted by these sources have been strongly linked with eczema in the literature. Of major concerns is the children exposed to these pollutants emitted from vehicular traffic. Homes and schools where children spend most of their time are nearer to roads than factories. Even exposure to the pollutants does occur outdoor. Most exposures occur in the indoor environment.
Unfortunately, exposure of children to the pollutants start way back from when they were still a fetus. The exposure of a pregnant woman to the pollutants put her fetus at risk. The pollutants find their way to the womb. The pollutants cause distortion to the performance of the skin cells. The distortion of the performance of the cells causes skin inflammation which eventually leads to itchiness and bleeding. Children continue to suffer from eczema as they grow up, especially with continuous exposure to the pollutants. Majority of the people suffering from eczema suffer for life. Medicine does help to relieve the pain from eczema and its exacerbation. However, the increase in the concentration of the pollutants and exposure of children to them increase their risk of experiencing eczema exacerbation.
The location of homes and schools closer to the busy roads increases the vulnerability and risk of children. Airtight buildings with well treated – via filtration and air cleaning methods – ventilation air could help reduce vulnerability and risk. This measure is best suited for existing buildings. However, the best strategy for reducing vulnerability and risk is not to locate homes and schools near busy roads. The reality is that this can be an uphill task to achieve considering the rapid rise in urbanisation, urban sprawls, non-environmental friendly cars on the roads, especially in developing countries, and perception of having cars as a success indicator. No wonder! The fight against eczema is an uphill battle.
Do you want to know more about how exposure to air pollution could trigger and exacerbate eczema? Read Deng et al. (2016) and Lu et al. (2017) papers.