Friday, 15 December, 2017

17 million babies breathing toxic air worldwide

UNICEF Representative in India Yasmin Ali Haque UNICEF Representative in India Yasmin Ali Haque
Ben Pena | 06 December, 2017, 21:36

Almost 17 million babies under the age of one are living in places where air pollution is "at least six times higher" than worldwide limits, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

“Protecting children from air pollution not only benefits children.

There are 136 million children under the age of 1 globally, which means one in eight are being exposed to toxic air, the United Nations children's fund said.

Air pollution potentially affects children's brains through several mechanisms.

The World Health Organization recommends that the level of pollutants in the air not exceed 20 micrograms per cubic meter (.02 parts per million).

Finally, as reducing children's exposure begins with understanding the quality of air they are breathing, the report endorses improved knowledge and monitoring of air pollution.

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The link between air pollution and respiratory diseases is well-established, but the United Nations Children's Fund, in a report on Tuesday, said there is a growing body of scientific research which shows that air pollution can permanently damage a child's brain.

Danger in the Air advises reducing children's exposure to pollutants by traveling during lower air pollution times of the day; providing appropriately fitting air filtration masks, in extreme cases; and creating smart urban planning so that major sources of pollution are not located near schools, clinics or hospitals.

"Protecting children from air pollution not only benefits children", Lake added.

UNICEF researchers add that the first 1,000 days of a child's life are critical to their long-term development and must be protected from hazards that threaten their physical and mental health.

Satellite imagery used to assess pollution levels around the world found that South Asian countries accounted for 12.2 million of the total number of affected children but that there is also a growing problem in African cities. A further four million are at risk in East Asia and the Pacific. Though few places top six times the recommended pollution density, UNICEF reported in 2016 that overall 2 billion children breathed bad air.

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