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Air Pollution and Child Health

Why in the discussion?
Recently a report on air pollution and child health has been released by the World Health Organization entitled ‘Air Pollution and Child Health: Prescribing Clean Air’ . According to the fact that approximately 93% of children (1.8 billion children) under the age of 15 years of age, breathe in such air every day which is polluted and this polluted air has a serious effect on the health and development of children. Many of these children die because of these serious effects. WHO estimates that in 2016, 600,000 children died due to respiratory infection due to polluted air.

What does the report say?
  • According to this report, when pregnant women are exposed to polluted air, they are more likely to give birth to a child prematurely and thus children born are small and have less weight during birth.
  • Air pollution also affects brain development and cognitive ability, as well as it can also cause asthma and childhood cancer.
  • Children who come in contact with high levels of air pollution, along with aging, are more at risk of heart disease.
  • Polluted air is working poison for millions of children and is ruining their life which is not proper. Therefore, it is important to be sure that all children can breathe in a clean air so that they can grow adequately and get their full potential.
  • One of the reasons that children especially affected by air pollution is that they breathe faster than adults and therefore absorb more pollutants.
  • Newborn and young children are also more sensitive to home air pollution, where fuel and technologies that are regularly used for cooking, heat and light are used.
The main findings of the report
  • Air pollution affects the brain’s development, thereby reducing the cognitive ability of children. Thus, it negatively affects the mental and physical development of children.
  • At the global level, 93% of children under the age of 15 live in this environment where PM 2.5 levels in the air are higher than PM2.5 prescribed by the WHO, in which 630 million children below 5 years and 15 years 1.8 billion children under age are included.
  • At the global level, 93% of children under the age of 15 are those who breathe in the high level (more polluting) air than the standard (PM2.5) level specified by the WHO for air quality. Of these children, 630 million children below 5 years of age and 1.8 billion are under 15 years of age.
  • 98% of all children under the age of 5 live in low and middle income countries where PM2.5 levels are high.
  • In comparatively, in high-income countries, 52% of children under the age of 5 live in areas where the PM2.5 level in the air is higher than the PM2.5 level determined by the WHO.
  • In 2016, in the case of children below 15 years of age, the combined effects of ambient air and air pollution were responsible for about 600,000 deaths.
  • Household air pollution and environment (external) air pollution caused by cooking for respiratory infections in children under 5 years of age in low and middle income countries are more than 50% responsible.
  • Air pollution is one of the major threats to child health, which is responsible for 1 out of 10 deaths in children under five years of age.
WHO Report and India
  • India has to face the burden of death rate and disease related to the highest air pollution in the world. There are more than 2 million deaths each year, 25% of the deaths due to poor quality of air is in India.
  • In the year 2016, about 100,000 children under five years of age were killed in India, due to complications in their health, external and domestic air pollution levels.
  • After India, Nigeria was second with 98,001 child mortality figures, followed by Pakistan, Congo and Democratic Republic of Ethiopia respectively.
  • India is one of the countries where more than 98 percent of all children under the age of five years live in areas where PM2.5 level is higher than the level determined by the WHO.
WHO’s first global conference on air pollution and health
  • The WHO Global Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health is being organized in Geneva on 30th October, 2018.
  • Leaders of this conference world; Minister of Health, Energy and Environment; Mayors; Heads of intergovernmental organizations; Scientists and others who will be given the opportunity to be committed to taking action against this serious health hazard. The proceedings to be performed by all of these should include:
  • To inform healthcare professionals, educate, provide resources and engage in creating inter-regional policy by health sector.
  • To reduce air pollution, the policies should be implemented in the right way. like-
♦ All countries should work to achieve the goal of WHO global air quality guidelines to promote the health and safety of children.
के To achieve this, governments should adopt measures that reduce the dependence on fossil fuels as global energy, improve energy efficiency and facilitate the upliftment of renewable energy sources. It is worth mentioning that 65% people still use fossil fuels in India to make food.
♦ Better waste management can reduce the amount of waste consumed by the society and thus ‘community air pollution’ can be reduced.
लिये Clean technologies and special use of fuel for cooking, heating and lighting in homes can greatly improve the quality of air in homes and the surrounding community.
  • Steps should be taken to avoid children from polluted air. like-
♦ Schools and playgrounds should be kept away from major sources of air pollution such as busy roads, factories and power plants.
Due to air pollution in low and middle income countries, the risk of disease is more
Influence of air pollution on children’s health
♦ Lung development hinders 
♦ Lung function reduction 
♦ Respiratory infections 
♦ Becoming mental and physical growth disrupted 
♦ Behavioral disorders 
♦ Low weight 
at birth 
♦ Premature birth ♦ Infant mortality 
♦ Childhood cancer 
पर Heart disease related to adult , The risk of diabetes and paralysis
According to the WHO, 523 children aged under 5 years of age and 52,000 children aged 5 to 15 years died due to external and domestic air pollution in the year 2016.
The importance of the report
  • The new report of the WHO on Air Pollution and Child Health checks the enormous impact of environment (external) and both domestic air pollution on the health of children across the world, especially in lower and middle income countries.
  • This report summarizes the latest scientific knowledge regarding adverse health effects in children due to exposure to air pollution.
  • Its purpose is to inform and motivate individual and collective action towards the health of children, due to exposure to air pollution by healthcare professionals.
Conclusion
Children are the future of society, but they are also the weakest member of it. Given the risks of children’s health due to air pollution, health professionals should respond to this. Through collective, coordinated efforts, health professionals should come together to solve this danger as a priority. To save the millions of children who are exposed to polluted air every day, it is important to take proper steps in this direction while not wasting time.
Source: WHO website and Indian Express

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