93% children below 15 exposed to toxic air

The European Union’s environmental agency says air…Enlarge

The European Union’s environmental agency says air…Enlarge

WHO said air pollution is having a "vast and awful impact on child health and survival", killing more than 600,000 children each year and hampering the development of millions more. Respiratory problems such as childhood asthma, lung function deficiencies, lower respiratory tract infections and even cancers are more likely among children exposed to air pollution, the report says. The report was released Monday this week (29th of October 2018) right before the first Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health organized by the WHO in Geneva. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, noted that the level of risk at which air pollution is placing children is exceedingly problematic. In a teleconference with journalists, Dr. Maria Neira, director of the WHO public health department, said the priority for the worldwide community is to accelerate the transition to "clean, renewable energy sources".

These are some of the findings of the WHO's Prescribing Clean Air report, which reveals that over 90% of the world's population breathe in toxic air and that around 7 million people die prematurely every year because of illnesses caused by air pollution.

WHO's study, which examined the health toll on children breathing health-hazardous levels of both outdoor and household air pollution, focused on unsafe particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5).

"Air pollution is stunting our children's brains, affecting their health in more ways than we suspected", Dr. Maria Neira, director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at WHO, said in a release accompanying the report.

On Tuesday, the city recorded the worst air quality of the season after pollution level turned severe at 401, prompting authorities to ban construction activities along with halting operations of industries using coal and biomass as fuel between November 1 and 10.

While air pollution is a global problem, it is particularly profound in low and middle income countries, the report stated.

The following revelations were made in a report titled Air Pollution and Child Health.

The report comes a day earlier to the United Nations body's first Global Conference on the very topic of Air Pollution and Health.

Air pollution can occur both outside and inside buildings and homes, and is defined by the concentration of fine particulate matter that the air holds (less than or equal to 2.5 micrometres in size).

The air pollution related mortality and disease burden India faces is also the highest in the world.

Reportedly, WHO is supporting the implementation of some health-wise policy measures like that of adopting clean cooking, promoting the use of cleaner modes of transport and energy efficient urban planning among others.

Poisonous air is having a devastating impact on billions of children around the world, damaging their intelligence and leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths, according to a report from the World Health Organization. A long-delayed national plan to clean up the air in 100 most polluted cities in India, is yet to be finalised after it was panned by air pollution activists for being weak and failing to set time-bound targets. Better waste management can reduce the amount of waste that is burned within communities and thereby reducing "community air pollution".

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