Air pollution kills 600000 kids annually mostly in Africa, Asia

Globally 93% of children live in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO guidelines

Globally 93% of children live in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO guidelines Credit MARK RALSTON AFP

Among these, 5,43,000 death are of children below the age of fie and 52,000 deaths in children aged between 5-15. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director general, last week called air pollution the "new tobacco" in terms of public health priorities.

One of the reasons why children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution is that they breathe faster than adults and therefore absorb more pollutants, the World Health Organization said.

The WHO report was released in advance of the very first Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, and it describes in devastating detail the heavy toll that air pollution can have.

Germany has one of the highest amount of premature deaths from air pollution in Europe, a report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) on Monday showed.

Children are more at risk from air pollution than adults due to the fact they breathe more rapidly, therefore absorbing more pollutants at a time when their bodies are still developing, World Health Organization states.

Short and long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to heart disease, stroke, cancer and respiratory problems. Household air pollution is damaging people's health, too - most notably from fumes caused by cooking, heating and lighting.

Health experts have warned persons of any excessive physical activity till the situation comes under control while doctors advise persons against going outdoors as air pollutants could lead to eye irritation and breathlessness.

But children who live in less developed countries appear to be carrying most of that weight. 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.

Air pollution affects neurodevelopment, leading to lower cognitive test outcomes, negatively affecting mental and motor development. "It contributed evidence of this association that is relevant for high-exposure settings in LMICs that experience the dual health burdens of ambient air pollution and household air pollution", it said. For pregnant women, it increases the chances of giving birth to babies who are smaller than what is normal for a given duration of gestation, research quoted in the report found.

"Children are society's future". The report found that more number of girl children (32,889 ) passed away in 2016 than boys (28,097).

The organisation is encouraging health professionals to come together and address the threat as a priority.

At the WHO's inaugural Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, which opens in Geneva on Tuesday 30 October, the body will call upon industry and governments to take bolder and more effective steps to improve air quality.

The American Public Health Association (15) and WHO (16) have proposed approaches for using the precautionary principle to protect children from environmental risks such as air pollution.

The worldwide 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.

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