ELIZABETH GROSSMAN – How fossil fuel use threatens kids’ health

The burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — creates pollution that not only can harm health but also foster climate change. Together these impacts pose an outsize risk to children, studies show. Their data point to a growing need for society to better protect kids. That’s the conclusion of a new report.

It was prepared by Frederica Perera. She is a leading expert on health at Columbia University, in New York City, where she runs the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. She and her colleagues have been studying the health effects of pollution and stress. Their findings have shown, again and again, that both can produce measurable harm to children.

Youngsters who live in poor households and those of color tend to face an especially high risk of breathing polluted air and encountering stress, her team has shown. What kind of stress? It might be the anxiety of not always having enough food to eat. Stress also can develop when children must move because their parents have lost their homes or jobs. Or it can develop in any number of other ways.

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