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UNICEF: One in Seven of the World’s Children Breathe Extremely Toxic Air, 600k Die Annually

Air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under five every year

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FILE - Haze hangs over Mexico City. Some two billion children live in regions where outdoor air pollution exceeds WHO's minimum air quality guidelines. VOA

October 31, 2016: One in seven of the world’s children is exposed to pollution levels six or more times higher than international standards set by the World Health Organization, according to a new report by UNICEF. The report was released a week ahead of the United Nations Climate Change conference in Marrakech.

“Air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under five every year,” says UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, “and it threatens the lives and futures of millions more every day.”

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Some two billion children live in regions where outdoor air pollution exceeds WHO’s minimum air quality guidelines, with 620 million of those children living in South Asia, followed by 520 million children in Africa, and 450 million children in the East Asia and Pacific region.

Around 2 billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds international limits. VOA
Around 2 billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds international limits. VOA

UNICEF says young children are particularly susceptible to indoor and outdoor air pollution because their lungs, brains and immune systems are still developing and their respiratory tracts are more permeable.

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UNICEF says it will ask the countries attending the climate change conference to take “four urgent steps” to protect children from air pollution:

Those steps are:

1. adopt measures to reduce pollution;

2. increase children’s access to healthcare;

3. minimize children’s exposure to pollution; and

4. establish better monitoring of air pollution.

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Lake said “We protect our children when we protect the quality of our air. Both are central to our future.” (VOA)

  • Shivani Vohra

    The Earth becoming a pool of toxic air, and it has become really important to find ways to cope with this problem otherwise Global warming will keep increasing.

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Toxicity in Air Affects Children’s Brain Development: UNICEF

UNICEF has warned that air pollution affects a child's brain development

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Brain Development
According to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, air pollution toxicity can affect children's brain development. Pixabay

Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has warned that air pollution toxicity can affect children’s brain development and called for urgent action to deal with the crisis gripping India and South Asia.

“I saw first-hand how children continue to suffer from the dire consequences of air pollution,” Fore, who recently visited India, said on Wednesday.

“The air quality was at a crisis level. You could smell the toxic fog even from behind an air filtration mask,” she added.

Air pollution affects children most severely and its effects continue all their lives because they have smaller lungs, breathe twice as fast as adults and lack immunities, Fore said.

Brain Development
Air pollution damages brain tissue and undermines brain development in babies and young children. Pixabay

She added that it “damages brain tissue and undermines cognitive development in babies and young children, leading to lifelong consequences that can affect their learning outcomes and future potential. There is evidence to suggest that adolescents exposed to higher levels of air pollution are more likely to experience mental health problems”.

“Unicef is calling for urgent action to address this air quality crisis,” affecting 620 million children in South Asia.

Also Read- Snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir to Help Bring Pollution Down in Neighbouring States

Schools were closed in Delhi till Tuesday because of the severe environmental situation caused by post-harvest burning of stubble in neighbouring states.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Sunday touched 625, considered “severe plus” level. (IANS)