Air

93% children below 15 exposed to toxic air: report

Risk is higher in low and middle-income countries where 98% of children under 5 live in conditions where PM 2.5 levels are above WHO guidelines

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Wednesday 31 October 2018
Children's health
Children are extremely vulnerable to air pollution. Credit: Getty Images Children are extremely vulnerable to air pollution. Credit: Getty Images

Children are extremely vulnerable to air pollution, says a report released during the first global conference on air pollution and health in Geneva. As many as 93 per cent children below the age of 15 years breathe polluted air. The risk is higher in low- and middle-income countries where 98 per cent of children under 5 are exposed to PM 2.5 levels above guidelines by the World Health Organization on air quality. 

Air pollution has now emerged as one of the leading threats to child health, accounting for almost 1 in 10 deaths in children below five.

“Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

The report, Air pollution and child health: prescribing clean air, examines the heavy toll of both ambient and household air pollution on the health of children. It says that pregnant women exposed to polluted air are more likely to give birth prematurely. Air pollution also impacts neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer along with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life. 

“Air pollution is stunting our children’s brains, affecting their health in more ways than we suspected. But there are many straight-forward ways to reduce emissions of dangerous pollutants,” says Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at WHO. “WHO is supporting implementation of health-wise policy measures like accelerating the switch to clean cooking and heating fuels and technologies, promoting the use of cleaner transport, energy-efficient housing and urban planning. We are preparing the ground for low emission power generation, cleaner, safer industrial technologies and better municipal waste management,” she added.

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