The report of an extensive study on the effect of air pollution on children worldwide, especially on children from poor and vulnerable backgrounds, was released by the UN’s children’s fund, UNICEF in October. In the report followed by wastesmart.org, a whopping 300 million children were reported to live in highly polluted areas, and the air in some of those polluted areas was so toxic, the pollution index was six time greater than acceptable international limits set by the WHO.
The report also says that children are particularly susceptible to air pollution since they “breath faster than adults on the average, and breathe in more air relative to their body weights” compared to adults. The report further indicates that apart from the health threats that air pollution poses to millions of children worldwide, evidence points to fact that close to 600,000 children under age 5 die every year due to air pollution related problems. Some of the health risks associated with air pollution in children include damage to the lungs, brain and other organs.
This latest report re-echoes two earlier reports by related international bodies; the UN and WHO. A UN report released in May, 2016 had stated that more than 80% of people living in urban areas breathe in poor quality air and that dwellers in low-income cities are the most vulnerable.
The WHO on its part released its own report in September, 2016 which noted that about 90 percent of the world’s population are at risk as a result of polluted air and that more than three million deaths are linked to indoor and outdoor pollution each year.
The UNICEF report concludes by advocating urgent and needed measures be put in place by respective governments and authorities to reduce air pollution-associated risks in children and to ensure that air breathed by children is clean, and safe.