The Environmental Protection Agency and its enviro allies claim that children are more vulnerable to air pollution than adults. Real data, now revealed for the first time, debunks this notion.
The EPA asserts on it’s web site that:
Children may be more vulnerable to environmental exposures than adults because:
- Their bodily systems are still developing
- They eat more, drink more, and breathe more in proportion to their body size
- Their behavior can expose them more to chemicals and organisms
The state of California states on its web site,
…there has been an increasing awareness in recent years that children may be more susceptible than adults to the harmful effects of air pollutants.
The Natural Resources Defense Council asserts,
Nearly 37 million children live in areas with unhealthy polluted air. Their developing bodies are more susceptible to harm from pollution, yet polluters and their allies in Congress have been trying to weaken existing clean air protections.
The Environmental Defense Fund says,
Children are especially vulnerable to ozone air pollution. For millions of children, high pollution days make it difficult to attend school, to play outside and to simply breathe.
So while regulators are careful to say “may be more vulnerable” (at least on their web sites), the activists simply make the bald-faced assertion that children are more vulnerable to air pollution.
While neither the EPA nor the enviros offer any data to support the notion that children are more vulnerable, we’ve uncovered data that debunk it.
In October 1948, the industrial town of Donora, PA witnessed perhaps the worst air pollution episode in U.S. history. Twenty elderly residents died as a result of the 3-day episode.
But what about the chidlren? What happened to them?
Certainly children were not unaffected by the extreme Donora episode, but as can be seen in the below table from the 1949 Public Health Service report, children were substantially less affected than adults. (Click to enlarge the table.)
Only 15.9% of children under 6, 29% of children between ages 6-12 and 27.3% of children between ages 13-19 were affected as compared to 42.7% of the population as a whole. That children were less affected than adults is a constant regardless of the degree of health effect reported (i.e., mild, moderate or severe).
As Table 10 of the PHS report shows, the duration of symptoms in children was generally less than or comparable to adults.
As Table 11 of the PHS report shows, children seem to have recovered from whatever health effects suffered more quickly than adults. (Click to enlarge the table.)
Table 14 of the PHS reports shows that children with pre-existing heart and lung problems were less affected than adults with those pre-existing conditions.
Could these results be explained by the possibility or likelihood that children spend more time indoors than adults and that indoor air was less polluted than outdoor air — and so children were less exposed to the foul air than adults? Perhaps, but that is speculation and the PHS report does not even allude to the possibility. Rather, the PHS emphasized in the report’s “Summary and Recommendations” section:
Both incidence and severity [of health effects] revealed a direct relationship with increasing age.
So the Donora episode, a severe, real-life air pollution episode that was investigated in detail by the Public Health Service, fails to show that children are more vulnerable air pollution. That beats whatever the EPA and the enviros have offered so far.