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Air Pollution A Major Risk For Children: WHO

Measures for reducing the toxic impact of air pollution include moving away from fossil fuels.

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Air pollution
A bus gives off exhaust fumes in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by Diaa Bekheet). The World Health Organization reported on Monday Oct. 29, 2018, that more than 90 percent, or nearly 2 billion children under the age of 15, breathe toxic air every day. The WHO says debilitating problems associated with air pollution begin at conception and continue until adolescence. VOA

The World Health Organization says air pollution kills hundreds of thousands of children every year and puts the physical health and neurological development of hundreds of millions of other youngsters at serious risk. The WHO is issuing a report titled “Air pollution and child health: Prescribing clean air” on the eve of the U.N. agency’s first-ever Global Conference on Air pollution and Health.

The World Health Organization reports more than 90 percent, or nearly 2 billion children under the age of 15, breathe toxic air every day. The WHO says debilitating problems associated with air pollution begin at conception and continue until adolescence.

air pollution
In this Sept. 19, 2018 photo steam and cooling towers of a lignite power plant are reflected in a pond in Peitz, eastern Germany. VOA

The report notes pregnant women exposed to polluted air are likely to give birth prematurely and have low-weight babies. A WHO scientist and expert on air pollution, Marie Noel Brune Drisse, warns that many babies will have neurodevelopment problems, resulting in lower IQs.

“The fact is that air pollution is stunting our brains, even before we are born,” said Drisse. “The fact that it is leading to diseases that we may not be able to see immediately but look at much later in life like adult diseases. Our lung function and our respiratory systems are being altered during our development.”

Drisse says this can lead to chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as certain types of cancers later in life. In 2016, the report estimated that 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air. It said the heaviest toll is paid by children in low- and middle-income countries. The report found that the highest death rates among children between the ages of 5 and 14 from both ambient and household air pollution occur in the African region.

global warming, air pollution
The sun is seen through evening air pollution in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 8, 2018. VOA

The report says switching to clean cooking and heating fuels and technologies could save the lives of many children. It says other measures for reducing the toxic impact of air pollution include moving away from fossil fuels.

Also Read: Ebola Has Reached To A Very Serious Situation In Congo: WHO

The report recommends the use of cleaner, renewable energy sources, less dependence on private cars in favor of public transportation, and better waste management systems. WHO officials say the benefits from implementing such measures will be felt almost immediately. (VOA)

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Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater -- 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater -- 12 per cent of the global total.

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water
Global groundwater depletion - where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally - increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India's rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period. Pixabay

As many as one billion people in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress, according to a new report.

Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid.

This number is expected to go up to five billion by 2050, said the report titled “Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019”, released to mark World Water Day on March 22.

water
Pure water droplet. Pixabay

Physical water scarcity is getting worse, exacerbated by growing demand on water resources and and by climate and population changes.

By 2040 it is predicted that 33 countries are likely to face extremely high water stress – including 15 in the Middle East, most of Northern Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Spain. Many – including India, China, Southern Africa, USA and Australia – will face high water stress.

water
Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid. Pixabay

Global groundwater depletion – where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally – increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India’s rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period.

Also Read: Beware! Sipping Hot Tea Raises Risk of Esophageal Cancer

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater — 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater — 12 per cent of the global total.

The WaterAid report warned that food and clothing imported by wealthy Western countries are making it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get a daily clean water supply as high-income countries buy products with considerable “water footprints” – the amount of water used in production — from water-scarce countries. (IANS)