25.9 C
Abuja

REPORT: More than 90 per cent of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day

Advertisement

Related

Advertisement
Advertisement

THE WHO has reported that every day around 93 per cent of the world’s children under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion children) breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and development at serious risk.

Sadly, many of them die. WHO estimates that in 2016, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.

A new WHO report on Air Pollution and Child Health examines the heavy toll of both ambient (outside) and household air pollution on the health of the world’s children, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The report is being launched on the eve of WHO’s first ever Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health.

According to the report,  when pregnant women are exposed to polluted air, they are more likely to give birth prematurely and have small, low birth-weight children. Air pollution also impacts neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer. Children who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life.

“Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives,” says Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfil their full potential.”

One reason why children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution is that they breathe more rapidly than adults and so absorb more pollutants, he says.

They also live close to the ground, where some pollutants reach peak concentrations – at a time when their brains and bodies are still developing.

- Advertisement -

Newborns and young children are also more susceptible to household air pollution in homes that regularly use polluting fuels and technologies for cooking, heating, and lighting

“Air Pollution is stunting our children’s brains, affecting their health in more ways than we suspected. But there are many straightforward ways to reduce emissions of dangerous pollutants,” says Dr. Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at WHO.

“WHO is supporting the 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. We are preparing the ground for low emission power generation, cleaner, safer industrial technologies and better municipal waste management,” she added.

WHO Key findings:

  • Air pollution affects neurodevelopment, leading to lower cognitive test outcomes, negatively affecting mental and motor development.
  • Air pollution is damaging children’s lung function, even at lower levels of exposures
  • Globally, 93% of the world’s children under 15 years of age are exposed to ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels above WHO air quality guidelines, which include the 630 million of children under 5 years of age, and 1.8 billion of children under 15 years
  • In low- and middle-income countries around the world, 98% of all children under 5 are exposed to PM2.5 levels above WHO air quality guidelines. In comparison, in high-income countries, 52% of children under 5 are exposed to levels above WHO air quality guidelines.
  • More than 40% of the world’s population – which includes for 1 billion children under 15 – is exposed to high levels of household air pollution from mainly cooking with polluting technologies and fuels.
  • About 600’000 deaths in children under 15 years of age were attributed to the joint effects of ambient and household air pollution in 2016.
  • Together, household air pollution from cooking and ambient (outside) air pollution cause more than 50% of acute lower respiratory infections in children under 5 years of age in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Air pollution is one of the leading threats to child health, accounting for almost 1 in 10 deaths in children under five years of age.

WHO’s First Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, which opens in Geneva on Tuesday 30 October will provide the opportunity for world leaders; ministers of health, energy, and environment; mayors; heads of intergovernmental organizations; scientists and others to commit to act against this serious health threat, which shortens the lives of around seven million people each year.

Author profile

Support the ICIR

We invite you to support us to continue the work we do.

Your support will strengthen journalism in Nigeria and help sustain our democracy.

[molongui_author_box]

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

Advertisement

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Support the ICIR

We need your support to produce excellent journalism at all times.

spot_img
Advertisement

Recent

Why I declined invitation to Chatham House — SDP presidential candidate

THE presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Adebayo Adewole, has described his...

Redesigned Naira Notes: ICPC arrests bank officials over sabotage

THE Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arrested officials of...

Scarcity of cash, petrol provokes protests, bank attacks in Ibadan

PROTESTS have erupted in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, amid the growing frustration and...

Naira Redesign: Buhari asks for seven days to tackle cash shortage, blames banks for inefficiency

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has asked for seven days to tackle problems arising from the...

Naira Scarcity: Nigerians react to students, soldiers clash over cash withdrawal at UNIBEN

NIGERIANS on Twitter have been expressing their feelings over the recent clash between students...
Advertisement

Most Read

Advertisement

Subscribe to our newsletter

Advertisement