Sun Meiying, 62, now opens the windows and door every time her family cooks or heats with solid fuels at home.


Living in a village in Huachuan County, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Sun was unaware how air pollution might affect her 11-year-old grandchild until one and a half years ago.


"Now whenever the kid is at home, his grandpa is not allowed to smoke inside," she said.


She revised her house rules to include more ventilation and a smoking ban in late 2019, when China's National Health Commission and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) jointly launched a pilot project to reduce the impacts of indoor air pollution on rural children.


In Huachuan and Anzhou District of Mianyang City, southwestern Sichuan Province, researchers have analyzed indoor pollution levels and conducted health education activities to promote habit changes among children, their caregivers and teachers.


While residents of big Chinese cities like Beijing and Tianjin have developed the habit of checking the Air Quality Index (AQI) and wearing masks when necessary, those living in the countryside still pay little attention to the air pollution issue.


Experts said the heavy use of solid fuels for cooking and heating is the main source of indoor air pollution in many rural areas, especially in northern China with a long winter heating season. Children in low-income families have been identified as the biggest victims.


Children exposed to air pollution at home are more susceptible to respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma, and even damage to their physical and cognitive development, according to a report released by UNICEF in 2016.


A survey by the Chinese government in 2016 showed that 32 percent of children in rural areas are exposed to indoor air pollution caused by solid fuels for cooking and heating.


In Huachuan, researchers installed real-time monitors for air quality (PM2.5) and air purifiers in 107 rural households, covering 121 children, and remotely monitor the air pollution data collected by the devices.


In a follow-up visit to Huachuan in November 2020, researchers found pollution levels in some houses had reached an extremely toxic level.


But it is not easy to change parents' habits and lifestyles. Quite a few parents still used plastic for lighting the fire and smoke of tobacco kept swirling in homes even after several educational activities.


In the last two years, researchers from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF visited homes and held online lectures in Huachuan to promote health awareness. They also sent messages to inform families of the real-time pollutant levels and remind them to open windows.


Wang Qiang, professor at the National Institute of Environmental Health, China CDC, said after their visits and health education, parents showed great improvement in knowledge and awareness related to air pollution.


"A noticeable change is that villagers are more enthusiastic about our visits, knowing that we are there to help them," said Wang.


Meanwhile, the local CDCs, health centers and women's federations also joined the project to help with health education and regular checking of monitoring devices.


Gao Hongcai, deputy head of HuachuanCounty, said the local government has introduced compulsory health education in primary and secondary schools and is promoting the use of sustainable energy solutions, such as wind power.


Zheng Yaxin, a mother of a 9-year-old boy, participated in the project and saw an air quality monitor and an air purifier installed in the adobe house her family has lived in for over 50 years.


"I had never thought that burning coal would threaten the health of my child," said Zheng. "I've learned to open the door as a daily routine for better ventilation and burn less coal."


\n

China seeks to protect rural children from indoor air pollution




Sun Meiying, 62, now opens the windows and door every time her family cooks or heats with solid fuels at home.


Living in a village in Huachuan County, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Sun was unaware how air pollution might affect her 11-year-old grandchild until one and a half years ago.


"Now whenever the kid is at home, his grandpa is not allowed to smoke inside," she said.


She revised her house rules to include more ventilation and a smoking ban in late 2019, when China's National Health Commission and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) jointly launched a pilot project to reduce the impacts of indoor air pollution on rural children.


In Huachuan and Anzhou District of Mianyang City, southwestern Sichuan Province, researchers have analyzed indoor pollution levels and conducted health education activities to promote habit changes among children, their caregivers and teachers.


While residents of big Chinese cities like Beijing and Tianjin have developed the habit of checking the Air Quality Index (AQI) and wearing masks when necessary, those living in the countryside still pay little attention to the air pollution issue.


Experts said the heavy use of solid fuels for cooking and heating is the main source of indoor air pollution in many rural areas, especially in northern China with a long winter heating season. Children in low-income families have been identified as the biggest victims.


Children exposed to air pollution at home are more susceptible to respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma, and even damage to their physical and cognitive development, according to a report released by UNICEF in 2016.


A survey by the Chinese government in 2016 showed that 32 percent of children in rural areas are exposed to indoor air pollution caused by solid fuels for cooking and heating.


In Huachuan, researchers installed real-time monitors for air quality (PM2.5) and air purifiers in 107 rural households, covering 121 children, and remotely monitor the air pollution data collected by the devices.


In a follow-up visit to Huachuan in November 2020, researchers found pollution levels in some houses had reached an extremely toxic level.


But it is not easy to change parents' habits and lifestyles. Quite a few parents still used plastic for lighting the fire and smoke of tobacco kept swirling in homes even after several educational activities.


In the last two years, researchers from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF visited homes and held online lectures in Huachuan to promote health awareness. They also sent messages to inform families of the real-time pollutant levels and remind them to open windows.


Wang Qiang, professor at the National Institute of Environmental Health, China CDC, said after their visits and health education, parents showed great improvement in knowledge and awareness related to air pollution.


"A noticeable change is that villagers are more enthusiastic about our visits, knowing that we are there to help them," said Wang.


Meanwhile, the local CDCs, health centers and women's federations also joined the project to help with health education and regular checking of monitoring devices.


Gao Hongcai, deputy head of HuachuanCounty, said the local government has introduced compulsory health education in primary and secondary schools and is promoting the use of sustainable energy solutions, such as wind power.


Zheng Yaxin, a mother of a 9-year-old boy, participated in the project and saw an air quality monitor and an air purifier installed in the adobe house her family has lived in for over 50 years.


"I had never thought that burning coal would threaten the health of my child," said Zheng. "I've learned to open the door as a daily routine for better ventilation and burn less coal."


\n

No comments:

Post a Comment