WHO DG: Polluted Air Kills 600, 000 Children Globally

Audrey Hill
November 1, 2018

Not only can air pollution cut a child's life short, it can also lead to health burdens lasting a lifetime. There also are clusters of poor air quality in every country, warned Dr. Sophie Gumy, a scientist in WHO's department of environmental and social determinants of health. The report found that children in poorer countries are far more at risk, with a full 98 percent of all children under five in low- and middle-income countries exposed to PM2.5 levels above World Health Organization air quality guidelines.

As part of its call for action from the worldwide community, WHO is recommending a series of straightforward measures to reduce the health risk from ambient fine particulate matter, or PM2.5 These include accelerating the switch to clean cooking and heating fuels and technologies, promoting the use of cleaner transport, energy-efficient housing and urban planning. Officials on the call with reporters said it was important for countries to push for renewable energy and to reduce the use of coal and gas. The WHO's air pollution statistics suggest that up to 1.8 billon children around the world breathe potentially life-threatening polluted air every day. There is something we can do.

It will require strong political will, swift action and endurance, but I am optimistic that we can, and must, do better.

"Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives", says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. It also causes psychological and behavioural problems, development delays by age three, a four-point drop in IQ by age five, said a Unicef report released in 2017.Even exposure to traffic noise is linked to behavioural problems. Imagine that our children will have less cognitive IQ. "By cleaning up the air we breathe, we can prevent or at least reduce some of the greatest health risks". "This is not only new but terribly shocking", she added.

The last direction, it said, was being issued "in view of the more or less critical situation in NCR, particularly in Delhi with regard to air pollution".

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The System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) released a report saying stubble burning was responsible for 32 percent of the overall pollution in Delhi by PM2.5 particles. It can also trigger asthma, and childhood cancer.

The report said household air pollution from cooking and ambient air pollution caused more than 50 per cent of acute lower respiratory infections in children under 5 years of age in low- and middle-income countries. Death rates due to air pollution are 84.8 per 100,000 in India says the report.

Approximately seven million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution-related diseases. "The withdrawal of western disturbances is likely to deteriorate the air quality further, as there is a spike in moisture levels and air becomes heavy, which increases its capacity to hold PM10 (particulate matter), causing more pollution", he added.

"This public health crisis is the subject of increased attention, but a crucial aspect is often overlooked: how air pollution affects children in particular", the WHO said in his report.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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