Thick haze engulfs Delhi as air pollution worsens

Air pollution is the new tobacco says WHO Head

Air pollution is the new tobacco says WHO Head

Data from the United Nations health body shows that every day, 93 percent of children under the age of 15 - a full 1.8 billion youngsters, including 630 million under the age of five - breath dangerously polluted air. In low- or middle-income countries, almost 98% of children below the age of five are exposed to the extremely harmful particulate matter PM2.5.

# Household air pollution from cooking and ambient air pollution caused more than 50 per cent of acute lower respiratory infections in children under five years of age in low- and middle-income countries.

The report details many other health problems linked to air pollution exposure, including adverse birth outcomes, effects on neurodevelopment, childhood obesity, lung function, asthma and childhood cancers.

"New and emerging evidence on effects of ambient and household air pollution on birth weight in India make it necessary for us to address air pollution as a risk factor for both Non-Communicable Diseases and maternal and child health", Kalpana Balakrishnan, lead author of the Tamil Nadu study and a WHO specialist advisor for the conference, said. Additionally, some pollutants reach peak concentrations lower to the ground, where children are breathing.

Air pollution continued to worsen in the Indian capital New Delhi ahead of Diwali, the festival of lights, with a thick haze engulfing parts of the city on Monday. He said that 90 percent of the world population suffers from toxic air and it affects children worse than adults.

Girls under five years of age accounted for 54% of the child mortalities, while boys accounted for 46%. "In extreme cases, we suggest the parents to shift to a different city where the child can breathe cleaner air".

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The 2018 Air Quality in Europe report of the EEA found that, despite slow improvements, air pollution continues to exceed European Union and World Health Organization limits and guidelines.

Dr. Maria Neira is the WHO's Director for public health and environment.

More than nine in 10 children around the world are living in areas of toxic air pollution, global health leaders have warned.

"WHO is supporting implementation of health-wise policy measures like accelerating the switch to clean cooking and heating fuels and technologies, promoting the use of cleaner transport, energy-efficient housing and urban planning".

The health body said that schools and playgrounds should be located away from major sources of air pollution like busy roads to try to minimise the risk to children.

Air pollution is one of the leading threats to child health, accounting for nearly 1 in 10 deaths in children under five years of age. There also are clusters of poor air quality in every country, warned Dr. Sophie Gumy, a scientist in WHO's department of environmental and social determinants of health.

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