Smoky air threatens children's health

Smaller lungs and higher metabolic activity make kids particularly vulnerable to wildfire smoke.

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Parents should be especially mindful to protect young children from exposure to wildfire smoke when air quality plummets to unhealthy levels.

"Kids breathe more, they breathe faster, and they take in more pollutants on a per-kilogram basis compared to an adult," said Dr. Catherine Karr, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "They also like to be active. And so that respiratory rate is reflecting on how active you are."

Karr was the senior author of a 2022 study which showed that air pollution can affect developing fetuses when their mothers are exposed during pregnancy to air containing high volumes of small-particle pollution.

Read more about her research in our blog postDownload broadcast-ready soundbites explaining how wildfire smoke threatens children, and tips to reduce their exposure.

UW Medicine