Published: Wed, October 31, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

World Health Organization says air pollution kills 600,000 children every year

World Health Organization says air pollution kills 600,000 children every year

The WHO report, "Prescribing clean air", summarised the latest scientific knowledge on the effect on children of air pollution, which affects about 93 per cent of children globally.

The report said that at least 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections across the world in 2016.

The following study took data from around 194 countries dealing with toxic air problems where India topped the list as it witnessed the deaths of at least 1 lakh children who were below the age of five.

The mayors of Paris and Brussels recently called for Europe to hold an annual car-free day in a bid to ease air pollution, having held a vehicle-free day in their own cities in September. Moreover, children who are exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at higher risk of developing chronic diseases later in life - ultimately hampering their quality of life. According to World Health Organization, 98% of all children under 5 in low- and middle-income countries are exposed to higher levels of PM2.5 than recommended, compared to 52% of children under 5 in high-income countries.

The green panel was hearing the matter after taking note of a news report published in an English daily titled, "All fiddle as crop stubble burns, farmers say solutions out of reach".

She disclosed that WHO is supporting the implementation of health-wise policy measures like accelerating the switch to clean cooking and heating fuels and technologies, promoting the use of cleaner transport and energy-efficient housing and urban planning.

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The PM2.5 has reached risky levels in New Delhi in the last two weeks.

Air quality index hit 469 in some parts of Delhi on Tuesday, up from 299.4 a week ago, according to Central pollution control board.

"Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

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". According to the report, Nigeria witnessed the death of around 98,000 children while Pakistan stood third with 38,252 deaths of minors.

To reduce child exposure to ambient pollution parents need to lobby politicians to clean up the environment, they added.

The report launched ahead of the WHO's first ever Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, revealed that when pregnant women are exposed to polluted air, they are more likely to give birth prematurely and have small, low birthweight children.

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