What are the major findings of the WHO report on air pollution and child health?

Published: October 30, 2018

The WHO has released a report on air pollution and Child health on the eve of the WHO’s first ever global conference on Air Pollution and Health.

WHO findings on Air pollution

  • 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 which is about 1.8 billion children breathe polluted air that puts their health and development at serious risk.
  • As many as six lakh estimated children have died in 2016 alone due to complications from acute lower respiratory infections caused by dirty air.
  • Pregnant women are exposed to polluted air, they are more likely to give birth prematurely, and have small, low birth-weight children.
  • Air pollution impacts neurodevelopment and cognitive ability.
  • Air pollution triggers asthma, and childhood cancer.
  • Children exposed to high levels of air pollution are at greater risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life.

Air Pollution and Children’s vulnerability

  • Children breathe more rapidly than adults. Hence they absorb more pollutants.
  • Children live closer to the ground where some pollutants reach peak concentrations at a time when their brains and bodies are still developing.
  • Newborns and small children are often at home if the family is burning fuels like wood and kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting, they would be exposed to higher levels of pollution.
  • Air pollution is also stunting children’s brains.

To address the harmful effects of air pollution WHO is implementing 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.

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