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Health Hazards of Air Pollution on Children

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Breathing clean air is a right that should be enjoyed by every person on Earth, but as industry, agriculture and other sources of air pollution have proliferated, clean air has become increasingly scarce.

The problem has grown to monumental levels, such that the World Health Organization (WHO), in their latest report on air pollution and child health, stated, “Exposure to air pollution is an overlooked health emergency for children around the world.”1

Worldwide, the report states, 93 percent of children live in areas with air pollution at levels above WHO guidelines. Further, more than 1 in 4 deaths among children under 5 years is related to environmental risks, including air pollution. In 2016, ambient (outside) and household air pollution contributed to respiratory tract infections that led to 543,000 deaths in children under 5.

“Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said in a news release. “This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfil their full potential.”2

Where Are Children Most at Risk?

Children are exposed to polluted air both indoors and out. Outside, ambient air pollution comes primarily from the combustion of fossil fuel, waste incineration, industrial and agricultural practices and natural disasters such as wildfires, dust storms and volcanic eruptions.

In 2016, ambient air pollution led to 4.2 million premature deaths, nearly 300,000 of which occurred in children under the age of 5 years. Exposure to air pollution occurs in developed countries — especially in low-income communities — however, children living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) were most affected.

Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) refers to dust, dirt, soot and smoke — particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. It’s the most studied type of air pollution, and the WHO report revealed that in LMICs, 98 percent of children under 5 years are exposed to fine particulate matter at levels higher than the WHO air quality guidelines.

In some areas, like African and Eastern Mediterranean regions, 100 percent of children under 5 are affected. In contrast, 52 percent of children under 5 in HICs are exposed to potentially dangerous levels of ambient air pollution. Indoors, 41 percent of the world’s population is exposed to household air pollution, particularly from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies.

WHO: Children Particularly at Risk From Polluted Air

Children are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution than adults, in part because their bodies (including their lungs and brains) are still developing, putting them at risk from inflammation and other health damage from pollutants. They also have a longer life expectancy, giving more time for diseases to emerge.

Overall, a combination of “behavioral, environmental and physiological factors” makes children particularly susceptible to air pollution, WHO notes, adding:3

“[Children] breathe faster than adults, taking in more air and, with it, more pollutants. Children live closer to the ground, where some pollutants reach peak concentrations. They may spend much time outside, playing and engaging in physical activity in potentially polluted air.

Newborn and infant children, meanwhile, spend most of their time indoors, where they are more susceptible to household air pollution, as they are near their mothers while the latter cook with polluting fuels and devices … In the womb, they are vulnerable to their mothers’ exposure to pollutants. Exposure before conception can also impose latent risks on the fetus.”

The WHO report analyzed studies published within the past 10 years, and used input from dozens of experts, to reveal some of the top health risks air pollution poses to children. Among them:4






Adverse birth outcomes, including low birth weight, premature birth, stillbirth and infants born small for gestational age.

Infant mortality — As pollution levels increase, so does risk of infant mortality.

Neurodevelopment — Exposure to air pollution may lead to lower cognitive test outcomes, negatively affect children’s mental and motor development and may influence the development of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Childhood obesity

Lung function — Prenatal exposure to air pollution is associated with impaired lung development and lung function in childhood.

Acute lower respiratory infection, including pneumonia

Asthma — Exposure to ambient air pollution increases the risk of asthma and exacerbates symptoms of childhood asthma.

Ear infection

Childhood cancers, including retinoblastomas and leukemia

Health problems in adulthood — evidence suggests that prenatal exposure to air pollution may increase the risk of chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease later in life.

Surprising Sources of Air Pollution

Pollution is only worsening in many parts of the world, and without aggressive intervention, deaths due to ambient air pollution could increase by more than 50 percent by 2050.5


The majority of global airborne particulate pollution — 85 percent — comes from fuel combustion, with coal being the “world’s most polluting fossil fuel.”6 Even in the U.S., an estimated 200,000 premature deaths are caused by combustion emissions, including that from vehicles and power generation.7


In a study of electric power generation in the U.S., which is coal-intensive, a study published in the journal Energy revealed that switching to natural gas for electricity generation could lead to significant benefits, including reducing sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 90 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 60 percent.8

In a Lancet study, authors took it a step further, noting that an even better solution would be shifting to low-polluting renewable energy sources such as wind, tidal, geothermal and solar options.9

The WHO authors also called for urgent changes to reduce air pollution, including switching to clean cooking and heating fuels and technologies and promoting the use of cleaner transport, energy-efficient housing and urban planning. They also advocate for improving waste management and locating schools away from busy roadways and factories.10

Industrial Agriculture’s Contribution to Air Pollution

WHO’s guidelines, as well as their estimates of how many people are breathing polluted air, do not account for ozone or nitrogen oxides, which are also known air pollutants.

Emissions of nitrogen oxides combine with oxygen and sunlight to break down into ozone. Levels of this air pollutant have tripled since 1990,11 possibly due to synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers, which release nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere.


Researchers have long known soil microbes convert nitrogen-based fertilizers to nitrogen oxides and release them into the air. However, it was estimated that only 1 kilogram of gas was produced per 100 kilograms of fertilizer, or roughly 1 percent. Researchers thought the amount of gas would increase linearly, or stay at 1 percent of the amount of fertilizer used.


However, further experimentation found the increase was exponential and not linear, as the original research didn’t account for conversion when excess nitrogen fertilizer was applied to the fields. In California, agricultural lands may be responsible for as much as 51 percent of nitrogen oxides off-gassing across the state, especially in areas that use synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers.12


Research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters has also demonstrated that in certain densely populated areas, emissions from farming far outweigh other sources of particulate matter air pollution.13 As nitrogen fertilizers break down into their component parts, ammonia is released into the air.


Ammonia is one of the byproducts of fertilizer and animal waste. When the ammonia in the atmosphere reaches industrial areas, it combines with pollution from diesel and petroleum combustion, creating microparticles. Concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) workers and neighboring residents alike report higher incidence of asthma, headaches, eye irritation and nausea.14

Air Pollution Is Becoming More Dangerous Than Ever

Pollution is the “largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today,” according to research published in The Lancet.15 The study revealed that 9 million premature deaths were caused by pollution in 2015, which is 16 percent of deaths worldwide. What’s more, among the pollution-related deaths, the majority — 6.5 million — were caused by airborne contaminants.

Fine particulate matter can enter your system and cause chronic inflammation, which in turn increases your risk of a number of health problems, from cancer to heart and lung disease. In the case of heart disease, fine particulate air pollution may increase your risk by inducing atherosclerosis, increasing oxidative stress and increasing insulin resistance, the researchers noted, adding:16

“The strongest causal associations are seen between PM 2.5 pollution and cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Specific causal associations have been established between PM 2.5 pollution and myocardial infarction, hypertension, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias and cardiovascular mortality.

Causal associations have also been established between PM 2.5 pollution and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has reported that airborne particulate matter and ambient air pollution are proven group 1 human carcinogens.”

Using Your Diet to Protect Against Air Pollution

Because you can’t always control your exposure to air pollution, especially that outdoors, one of the best options is to fortify your diet with nutrients that may have a protective effect against pollutants. This includes:17

Omega-3 fats — They’re anti-inflammatory, and in a study of 29 middle-aged people, taking an animal-based omega-3 fat supplement reduced some of the adverse effects to heart health and lipid levels, including triglycerides, that occurred with exposure to air pollution (olive oil did not have the same effect).18

Broccoli sprouts — Broccoli-sprout extract was shown to prevent the allergic nasal response that occurs upon exposure to particles in diesel exhaust, such that the researchers suggested broccoli or broccoli sprouts could have a protective effect on air pollution’s role in allergic disease and asthma.19

A broccoli-sprout beverage even enhanced the detoxification of some airborne pollutants among residents of a highly polluted region of China.20

Vitamins C and E — Among children with asthma, antioxidant supplementation including vitamins C and E helped to buffer the impact of ozone exposure on their small airways.21

B vitamins — A small-scale human trial found high doses of vitamins B6, B9 and B12 in combination completely offset damage caused by very fine particulate matter in air pollution.22

Four weeks of high-dose supplementation reduced genetic damage in 10 gene locations by 28 to 76 percent, protected mitochondrial DNA from the harmful effects of pollution, and even helped repair some of the genetic damage.

Stopping Air Pollution Will Take a Global Effort

In many areas of the world, people have limited options to improve air quality both inside and outside of their homes. WHO recommends the use of clean stoves for cooking as a key way to improve household air pollution, but notes that “reducing ambient air pollution requires wider action, as individual protective measures are not only insufficient, but are neither sustainable nor equitable.”23

Solving the problem, and protecting the health of future generations of children, will instead take a global effort. According to WHO:24

“To reduce and prevent exposure to both household air pollution and ambient air pollution, public policy is essential. Air pollutants do not recognize political borders but travel wherever the wind and prevailing weather patterns take them. Therefore, regional and international cooperative approaches are necessary to achieve meaningful reductions in children’s exposure.

Approaches to preventing exposure must be complementary and mutually reinforcing, on every scale: houses, clinics, health care institutions, municipalities, national governments and the global community …

Individual efforts can add up to collective action that changes minds, changes policies and changes the quality of the air around us. Such actions would go far toward ensuring that children can breathe freely, without the terrible burdens imposed by air pollution.”

In your own home, I recommend taking steps to keep your indoor air clean, including opening windows to let fresh air in and avoiding the use of known air pollutants like chemical cleaning products, air fresheners and scented candles. Purifying your home’s air is also a wise step, but no one filter can remove all pollutants, so be sure to do your research on the different types of air filters to meet your specific needs.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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