Exposure to environmental health hazards can have a significant impact on children's health and well-being. All children are at risk of developing learning disabilities, chronic and acute respiratory diseases, cancers, and illnesses caused by damage to the nervous system from hazardous substances. The incidence of chronic childhood diseases such as asthma and bronchitis are increasing. Additionally, cancer rates are increasing, especially childhood cancers such as leukemia.
US research indicates that acidic aerosols, for which there are no health-based standards, may be associated with adverse respiratory effects in children. Acidic aerosols are traceable mainly to combustion of sulfur-containing fossil fuels and to reactions of photochemical free radicals with nitrogen dioxide.
Ozone causes airway inflammation and hyper-reactivity, bronchial epithelial permeability, decrements in pulmonary function, cough, chest tightness, pain on inspiration, and upper respiratory tract irritation. Nonrespiratory effects associated with ozone exposure include nausea, headache, malaise, and decreased ability to perform sustained exercise. Epidemiologic studies link increased ozone concentrations with exacerbations of asthmatic symptoms.