Air pollution kills 600,000 children every year, World Health Organisation says

Erika Holt
October 31, 2018

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

The U.N. health agency concluded that, worldwide, indoor and outdoor air pollution contributed to respiratory tract infections that resulted in 543,000 deaths in children under the age of 5 in 2016.

Environment Pollution Control Authority has said that private cars will be stopped from plying in the capital if air pollution continues to worsen.

Delhi's air quality continued to remain in the very poor category as a thick haze engulfed the city, which was battling alarming levels of pollution. Children exposed to excessive pollution may also be at greater risk of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease in adulthood. "Better waste management can reduce the amount of waste that is burned within communities and thereby reducing 'community air pollution.' The exclusive use of clean technologies and fuels for household cooking, heating and lighting activities can drastically improve the air quality within homes and in the surrounding community", the World Health Organization wrote in its press release.

Meanwhile, there were also reports of the Centre and the Delhi environment ministry carrying out week-long raids in Delhi starting from 1 November.

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Data from the Central Pollution Control Board showed the air quality index, which measures the concentration of poisonous particulate matter, hit 469 in parts of Delhi on Tuesday, up from 299.4 a week ago.

"This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfil their full potential" said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.

Maria Neira, WHO's head of environmental determinants of health, said the worrying findings highlighted in the study, including evidence of pollution causing stillbirth and preterm birth, as well as diseases into adulthood, should lead to policy changes globally.

"But there are many straight-forward ways to reduce emissions of risky pollutants", Neira said. According to the report, Nigeria witnessed the death of around 98,000 children while Pakistan stood third with 38,252 deaths of minors. Europe must "redouble its efforts to reduce emissions caused by transport, energy and agriculture and invest in making them cleaner and more sustainable", he added. On the other hand, the report stated that the ratio of deaths to the population during a particular period were much higher in the above-mentioned countries in comparison to India.

"The self-neutralization of natural dust is much higher as compared to the emitted pollutants", he said. It states that pregnant women may give birth prematurely and have small or low-birth-weight children.

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