New Delhi: Right to breathing clean air is a distant dream and air pollution is a full blown health crisis if one goes by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest report titled ‘Air Pollution and Child Health: Prescribing Clean Air’. The report assesses the global impact of air pollution on children’s health and was released in Geneva a day before the world’s first Global Conference on Pollution and Health on October 30- November 1.
Top 5 Findings of WHO Report on Air Pollution
- One in 10 children under the age of five dies globally, courtesy air pollution prevailing around the globe. The statistics prove air pollution to be one of the leading threats to child health.
- In the year 2016 alone, globally 6 lakh children under 15 years of age died due to the joint effects of ambient and household air pollution.
- Nearly 93 per cent of the World’s children (about 1.8 billion under 15 years of age and nearly 630 million under five years of age) are exposed to the levels of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 which are much higher than the levels approved by WHO. According to the WHO air quality guidelines, while the 24-hour safe standard for PM 2.5 is 25 μg/m3, annual mean is 10 μg/m3. PM 2.5, an ultrafine particulate matter measuring less than 20 times the width of a human hair travels more deeply into our lungs and affects adversely.
- Highlighting children’s exposure to PM 2.5 levels above the WHO air quality guidelines, the reports says, while in low and middle income countries around the world, 98 per cent of all children under the age of five are exposed to PM 2.5 levels above WHO air quality guidelines, in high income countries, it is 52 per cent of children.
- The report also highlights the impact of air pollution on pregnant women, especially those who are exposed to wood and dung burning. Air pollution not only causes low birth rate, but also impacts the fetus. According to the report, pollutants in placenta blocks and clots the blood vessels in the fetus which essentially means there will be less oxygen that will go to child’s brain. According to doctors, this leads to deformity and also affects cognitive behaviour.
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