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The Respiratory System

Respiratory System illustrationThe Respiratory System is the group of organs in the body that is responsible for breathing. Try taking a breath. When you inhale, you are pulling fresh, oxygen containing air into your lungs to be absorbed. Now breathe out. When you exhale, you push the stale air containing  carbon dioxide (CO2) out of your lungs.

Unfortunately, if air pollution is present in the air you breathe, it too can enter the respiratory system with every breath. The major harmful effects to human health from air pollution occur in the lungs. Children are particularly susceptible to environmental pollutants that enter the respiratory system and eventually reach the lungs for several reasons:

  • Children tend to spend more time engaging in physical activities outdoors than do adults.
  • Children breathe through their mouths more often than adults, thus bypassing the filtering and removal of air pollutants that  occurs by breathing through the nasal passages.
  • Children's air passages are smaller than adults.  Irritation caused by air pollutants can cause air passages to swell. Since their air passages are smaller, it is more difficult for children breathe with partially blocked air passages.

Continue this lesson to find out more about specific types of air pollutants.

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