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

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The death rates among children aged between 5 and 14 years due to air pollution was 7,234 (2.9 per 100,000).

Using global air quality data and rates of respiratory tract infections in children, the World Health Organization report found that in 2016 alone, 600,000 children under the age of 15 died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.

The global research team working on the study included scientists from the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, the University of Colorado Boulder, NASA, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute as well as the University of York's Stockholm Environment Institute.

"Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives", said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general.

The economic development data of 41 countries (in Asia and the Pacific) shows that unlike many other nations who managed to control air pollution with economic development, India's air quality got worse with an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

WHO's study, which examined the health toll on children breathing health-hazardous levels of both outdoor and household air pollution, focused on unsafe particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5).

Youngsters exposed to high levels of air pollution may also be at greater risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life, World Health Organization warned.

The authors say that children are at greater risk than adults from the many adverse health effects of air pollution because their lungs, organs and brains are still maturing. "In terms of air pollution, road transport emissions are often more harmful than those from other sources, as these happen at ground level and tend to occur in cities, close to people", said EEA chief Hans Bruyninckx. In a teleconference with journalists, Dr. Maria Neira, director of the WHO public health department, said the priority for the global community is to accelerate the transition to "clean, renewable energy sources".

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The household pollution produced by the use of cooking oil, heating and lighting are severely injurious for newborn children. We are preparing the ground for low emission power generation, cleaner, safer industrial technologies and better municipal waste management, " she noted. As this report makes clear, this nasty stuff can possibly lead to all kinds of health problems, including childhood cancers, neurodevelopment issues, and premature births.

The level of air pollution in Europe still exceed the norm and the European Union and the world health organization (who).

The authors of the report write that air pollution places "the heaviest burden on the smallest shoulders".

As part of its call for action from the global community, WHO is recommending a series of "straightforward" measures to reduce the health risk from ambient fine particulate matter, or PM2.5.

Mark Watts, executive director of the C40 Cities group, which represents cities around the world working to tackle the climate crisis and air pollution, said the report was an urgent call to action.

However, WHO said that it was working with partners to develop ways to support countries in addressing the problem of air pollution.

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

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