Air pollution kills 600,000 children annually

30 October, 2018, 04:31 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Globally 93% of children live in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO guidelines

The most recent air pollution data from the World Health Organisation released in March said India was one of the world's 10 most polluted countries.

The report found that children in poorer countries are far more at risk, with a full 98 percent of all children under five in low- and middle-income countries exposed to PM2.5 levels above World Health Organization air quality guidelines.

At the Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health (30 October -1 November), world leaders will help tackle this issue at the WHO headquarters.

Air pollution produced from cooking and heating fuels, urban transportation and industrial output can impact a child's neurodevelopment, and even lead to asthma, childhood cancer and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, later in life. In the morning, air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 348, considered very poor category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Globally, with smoking on the decline, air pollution now causes more deaths annually than tobacco.

There was clear, consistent evidence of an association between ambient air pollution and otitis media, or ear infections, the study said, as well as some evidence of it causing obesity and insulin resistance in children.

But while adults are affected by toxic air, children are far more vulnerable as they breathe more rapidly - and therefore absorb more pollution.

Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, WHO, said, "Air Pollution is stunting our children's brains, affecting their health in more ways than we suspected".


It is very unfortunate that the Delhi government only remains a "mute spectator" to this "serious health hazard" Delhi is facing, he alleged, adding that in the last four years, the AAP dispensation has "failed" to take any effective measure to curb air pollution.

Harmful air pollution emissions remain stubbornly high in some countries, according to the European Environment Agency.

The figure of 7 million early deaths is certain to be an underestimate, as it only includes particle pollution and the five most firmly linked causes of death.

Agency head Hans Bruyninckx said: "Air pollution is an invisible killer and we need to step up our efforts to address the causes".

In 2015, concentrations of PM2.5 were slightly lower than the previous year, while the levels of NO2 and O3 were higher.

More than 40% of the world's population - which includes for 1 billion children under 15 - is exposed to high levels of household air pollution from mainly cooking with polluting technologies and fuels.

A long-delayed national plan to clean up the air in 100 most polluted cities in India, is yet to be finalised after it was panned by air pollution activists for being weak and failing to set time-bound targets.

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