Two-hundred and twenty million children in South Asia region including India, among almost 300 million globally, now live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds worldwide guidelines by at least six times, according to a new report released by UNICEF today. The report found that more than 90 percent of people face pollution levels that fall short of World Health Organization standards. "No society can afford to ignore air pollution", added Lake. The result: air pollution has been linked to more than a half-million deaths each year of children younger than 5, almost twice the death toll caused by malaria.
Cognitive Development: Studies show these tiny particles can also cross the blood-brain barrier, which is less resistant in children, causing inflammation, damaging brain tissue, and permanently impairing cognitive development.
The high level of pollution in New Delhi is not a new phenomenon.
Beyond the children living in the most toxic air, about 2 billion children in the world, constituting the vast majority, live in places where air pollution exceeds the level that the WHO considers unhealthy, the report said. Most of the children affected by poor air quality belong to low income, rural areas.
The findings come a week ahead of the COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, where Unicef is calling on world leaders to take urgent action to cut air pollution in their countries. Titled "Clear the air for children", the report talks about "the impact of air pollution on children".
The sources of air pollution are among the main factors fueling the warming of the planet, namely fossil-fuel emissions.
The young children are more susceptible than adults to pollution because their lungs, their brains and immune systems are not yet fully formed and their airways are more permeable.
With growing awareness of the adverse effects of firecrackers on air pollution, sales have fallen around 20% year-on-year during the past five years, according to The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India.
In the light of the rising level of pollution, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Monday reviewed the ambient air quality status of Delhi. Some local studies indicate up to a third of Delhi's children have impaired lung function and respiratory diseases like asthma, she said. The pollution levels in Delhi reached peak stage with a blend of perilous gases and harmful pollutants. But increasing industrialization and urbanization are contributing to growing air-quality risks in parts of Africa. World Health Organization studies also claim that one in ten deaths of children under five is linked to air pollution. Many of these deaths are said to occur in developing countries like Uganda.
You can view air quality from the US Embassy, Indian government monitoring stations as well as other Airveda monitors set up around your city and rest of the country.