Pollution can permanently damage a child's brain: Unicef
06 December, 2017, 20:21
The first and foremost step that each one of us should take is towards reducing air pollution as much as possible.
According to a new UNICEF paper, 17 million babies in the world breathe toxic air.
Even as the National Capital and adjoining regions are grappling smog and air pollution for over a month now, the issue has been raised at the highest global level as United Nations worldwide Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has taken a serious view of the situation.
Babies in South Asia are worst affected, with more than 12 million living in areas with pollution six times higher than safe levels.
The World Health Organization recommends that the level of pollutants in the air not exceed 20 micrograms per cubic meter (.02 parts per million).
Finally, as reducing children's exposure begins with understanding the quality of air they are breathing, the report endorses improved knowledge and monitoring of air pollution.
"But a growing body of scientific research points to a potential new risk that air pollution poses to children's lives and futures: its impact on their developing brains", Unicef said.
Air pollution has already been linked to asthma, bronchitis, and other long-term respiratory diseases.
UNICEF urged more efforts to cut pollution, and also to reduce children's exposure to the poisonous smog which has frequently reached hazardous levels in Indian cities in recent weeks.
Air pollution potentially affects children's brains through several mechanisms. It also urged public authorities to invest in cleaner renewable energy and to make it feasible for children to travel at times of day with diminished pollution, as well as to zone major sources of pollution far away from schools, clinics and hospitals.
UNICEF warns that as more countries grow into modern, urban societies, governments have failed to provide "adequate protection and pollution reduction measures" to protect young children.
Rees said masks help "but very importantly they have to have good filters and they also have to fit children's faces well".
"Protecting children from air pollution not only benefits children".
The European Environment Agency has found that polluted air kills half a million EU residents per year.