Monday, 19 November, 2018

More than 90% of the world's children breathe toxic air every day

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was speaking at a press conference in 2017 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was speaking at a press conference in 2017
Melissa Porter | 30 October, 2018, 04:32

The WHO says a range of actions are needed to curb the problem and protect the health of children worldwide, including the implementation of new policies to reduce pollution levels - such as further reducing dependence on fossil fuels and aiding the use of renewable energy, providing greater resources to heath professionals, improving waste management and locating schools and playgrounds away from busy roads and factories. It also comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports on the numbers of child deaths and illnesses linked to poor air quality.

Air pollution is taking a toll on children's health.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health's Prof Jonathan Grigg stated that invisible toxins from air pollution get in children's bodies through their lungs, hindering growth of lungs, adversely influencing other organs and causing asthma.

An overall Air Quality Index of 348 was recorded which falls in the very poor category, according to data of the Central Pollution Control Board.

According to the report, some 422,000 people deceased in 41 countries across Europe in 2015 due to the excess of hard particle levels in the air; nitrogen dioxide effects caused deaths of 79,000 people.

More than 40 per cent of world's population, which includes one billion children under 15, is exposed to high levels of household air pollution from mainly cooking with polluting technologies and fuels, the report said.

The WHO has previously addressed this kind of indoor pollution, calling air pollution a gendered issue which disproportionately affects women and children.

Children are especially vulnerable to the ill-effects of air pollution because they breathe more rapidly than adults, absorbing more pollutants, the World Health Organization release explains.

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

Dr. Maria Neira, WHO's director of environmental and social determinants of health, said of the pre-birth findings. The pollution levels recorded at Ghaziabad, Kanpur, GB Nagar, Baghpat and Noida was even worse than New Delhi's.

Air pollution causes more than 500,000 premature deaths in Europe every year, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has warned. Air pollution also impacts neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer.

Air pollution kills 7 million people each year including 600,000 children. The researchers, including those from the University of Colorado Boulder and NASA in the United States, said one way to reduce pollutants quickly would be to target emissions from cars, especially in big cities. It said that the new clean air act is needed to diminish air concentration levels to as low and as soon as possible.

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.