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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2042

Air pollution is a leading factor in child mortality, the UNICEF

By Manjari Peiris

"Air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under five every year, and it threatens the lives and futures of millions more every day," said Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF.

Lake added, "Pollutants don't only harm children's developing lungs. They can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains and, thus, their futures. No society can afford to ignore air pollution.

He made these remarks at the launching of a book titled, " Cleansing of air for children".

He requested the leaders who participated at the UN's Conference on Climate Change in Morocco recently to take measures to minimize air pollution by, viz Investing on an effective energy system and minimize air pollution, to hold health programs to enhance knowledge of people on pneumonia which has caused in death of majority of children, below 5 years and enable children more opportunities for children to obtain health facilities.

To minimize children being exposed to air pollution by getting industries and air polluted stations away from schools.

To increase monitoring of air pollution.

UNICEF points to satellite imagery which it says confirms that about two billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds minimum air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organization.

The air is poisoned by vehicle emissions, fossil fuels, dust, burning waste and other airborne pollutants, it said.

South Asia has the largest number of children living in such areas at about 620 million, followed by Africa with 520 million and the East Asia and Pacific region with 450 million.

The study also looked at indoor air pollution, typically caused by burning coal and wood for cooking and heating.

Together, outdoor and indoor air pollution are directly linked to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases that account for almost one death in 10 in children under the age of five, making air pollution a leading danger to children's health, UNICEF said.

Children are more susceptible than adults to indoor and outdoor air pollution because their lungs, brains and immune systems are still developing and their respiratory tracts are more permeable.

The most vulnerable to illnesses caused by air pollution are children living in poverty, who tend to have poorer health and little access to health services.

UNICEF called for more strong and healthy measures to reduce pollution, increase children's access to healthcare and to monitor and minimize children's exposure to polluted air.

The Executive Director, Anthony Lake of the UNICEF states that majority of the victims are from poor countries and that this figure is greater than those who die due to malaria and HIV Aids. Since, air pollution is more dangerous on unborn children, he requested world leaders to take every step possible to reduce air pollution.

It is targeted to eradicate global air pollution by 2100. Hence UNICEF requests world leaders to act upon these four measures.

The UNICEF affirms that it is compulsory for low and middle income countries to take measures that developed countries have taken to minimize air pollution.

Air pollution heavily affects unborn children. Taking measures to minimize air pollution helps not only reduce the number of children getting exposed to air pollution, but also to reduce cost on medicine to treat children and promote productivity of the society.

- Asian Tribune -

Air pollution is a leading factor in child mortality, the UNICEF
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