Air pollution kills 600,000 kids annually mostly in Africa, Asia

30 October, 2018, 04:29 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • Air pollution is the new tobacco says WHO Head

Girls under five years of age accounted for 54% of the child mortalities, while boys accounted for 46%.

Air quality across Europe is slowly improving, but particulate pollution is linked to nearly half a million premature deaths across the European Union (EU). Tragically, many of them die. Air pollution also impacts neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer.

In 2016, about 6 lakh deaths of children under 15 years were caused by the combined exposure to ambient and household air pollution, the report claimed.

Dr. Maria Neira is the WHO's Director for public health and environment.

"Something that is critical as well is this issue of the neuro-development", she said. "You can still have a very good economic development without destroying the environment, without destroying the lungs and hearts of your people", Neira added.

WHO Global Ambient Air Quality Database (update 2018), released in May, says the air pollution related mortality and disease burden India faces is also the highest in the world.

It also cites a study carried out in Tamil Nadu that showed maternal exposure to PM2.5 led to low birth weight in newborns.

Environmental group Climate Trends, based here, says most Indian cities, unlike New Delhi, do not have an emergency response plan to tackle air pollution.

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

One reason why children are especially vulnerable to polluted air is that they breathe more rapidly than adults, absorbing more toxins, World Health Organization says.

This includes using clean cooking and heating fuels and technologies. Children are affected before they are even born, the report found. Pollution authorities attributed this to construction activities, vehicular pollution and stubble burning by farmers in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. The report called for further research in this area.

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.

This report comes ahead of the WHO's First Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health in Geneva on October 30, which will allow multiple stakeholders, including government officials and scientists, to outline actions to decrease the effects of air pollution on people's health.

For each of these air pollutant categories, different countries have their own established air quality indices in relation to other nationally set air quality standards for public health protection.

PM2.5 means the mass per cubic metre of air of particles with a diameter generally less than 2.5 micrometres - or one 400th of a millimetre.

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