More Than 90% of World’s Children Don’t Breathe Clean Air, WHO Reports

01 November, 2018, 05:33 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Using firewood to cook causes pollution and effects young children adversely. Credit Danish Siddiqui  Reuters

The release of the EEA report came the same day as United Nations heath agency said in a separate study that globally an estimated 600,000 children under the age of 15 die every year from respiratory problems associated with air pollution.

The publication of the report, "Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science based solutions", on Tuesday coincides with the World Health Organization holding its first global air pollution conference in Geneva this week. Among millions of other children affected with the effects of air pollution it leads to severe symptoms of various conditions such as asthma, respiratory diseases, loss of intelligence, excessive weight gain and ear infections. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General has reportedly said that the polluted air is not only ruining the lives of millions of children across the globe while adding that it is inexcusable.

Dr. Maria Neira, WHO's director of environmental and social determinants of health, said of the pre-birth findings.

In India, nearly all children under the age of 5 breathe polluted air and women especially in rural areas are subject to high levels of household air pollution. As the World Health Organization described, children breathe more quickly than adults, which means they inhale air pollutants at a faster rate. "Children live closer to the ground, where some pollutants reach peak concentrations".

Another type of pollutant was remarkably present in the Africa, where people are exposed to high levels of HAP triggered by the widespread use of fuel and polluting technologies in the basic daily needs, such as cooking, heating and lighting.

"Air pollution refers to household combustion of fuels caused by burning fuel such as coal, wood or kerosene and using open fire or basic stove in poorly ventilated spaces".

"Air Pollution is stunting our children's brains, affecting their health in more ways than we suspected".


It also called on individuals to limit spending time at specific hotspots of traffic such as cars stopped at traffic lights and to stop burning waste as the smoke that results damages the health. "It contributed evidence of this association that is relevant for high-exposure settings in LMICs that experience the dual health burdens of ambient air pollution and household air pollution", it said.

"It shows us that air policy does work, but it also reminds us that we need to make it work even better to achieve clean air across Europe, for all citizens", said EU Commissioner for Environment Karmenu Vella.

Our latest estimates are that up to one-third of deaths from heart attack, stroke, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases are due to air pollution.

She argued that to achieve the goal, governments should adopt measures such as reducing the over-dependence on fossil fuels in the global energy mix, investing in improvements in energy efficiency and facilitating the uptake of renewable energy sources among others.

"The way we are now protecting our populations from air pollution is not good enough".

Nieuwenhuijsen said city dwellers often suffer from noise and air pollution and lack of green space, but sometimes fail to grasp just how much certain smart policies like replacing streets with walking and bike lanes could improve their lives.

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