June 3, 2024

U of A project could help children in daycare breathe easier during wildfire season

Recommendations, dashboard tool designed to help child-care centres protect their tiny clients when air quality is poor.

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Children in daycares could be breathing easier during wildfire season, thanks to a new U of A research project to help centres and parents minimize kids’ risk of exposure to unhealthy air pollution. (Photo: Getty Images)

Children in daycares could be breathing easier during wildfire season, thanks to a new University of Alberta research project.

A set of recommendations for outdoor and indoor air quality monitoring has been drawn up for Alberta’s child-care centres, through a collaboration between two experts in the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

“In the face of more intense wildfire seasons in Alberta, there are also more days with poor-quality air, so we really want to provide information that can empower child-care centres to promote the health of little ones in a way that is accessible and actionable,” says Amina Hussein, professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“Keeping your child’s lungs healthy means more healthy days and more days your child is in daycare learning and growing. Helping daycares and parents minimize the risk of exposure to unhealthy levels of chemicals in the air is preventive health at its best,” adds Department of Pediatrics professor Anne Hicks, clinical lead for the Children’s Environmental Health Clinic, and a member of the Alberta Respiratory Centre and Women and Children’s Health Research Institute.

The recommendations Hussein and Hicks compiled will help child-care centre staff assess the health risk to their tiny clients during events such as wildfires, when air quality is poor.

Babies and children are more vulnerable than adults to air pollution and wildfire smoke, notes Hicks, a pediatric respirologist.

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