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Polluted Air Kills 600, 000 Children Globally – WHO DG

By Ahmed Abu, The Nigerian Voice, Maiduguri
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World Health Organisation ( WHO) has warned that more than 90 percent of the world ’ s children breathe polluted air that puts their health and development at serious risk , and tragically kills many of them.

It also called for acute response policies , measures and actions globally .

The WHO Director - General, Dr . Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his latest 2018 report said , Air Pollution and Child Health : Prescribing Clean Air Monday, WHO estimated that in 2016 , 600 , 000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air .

He added that the heavy toll was caused by both outside and household air pollution , on the health of the world ’ s children , particularly in low - and middle -income countries .

According to the WHO DG, one reason why children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution is that they breathe more rapidly than adults and so absorb more pollutants.

The Director General further explained that another reason for the cause could be living closer to the ground where some pollutants are at their peak concentrations , at times affect their brains and bodies while they are still growing .

Tredos revealed also that when pregnant women are exposed to polluted air , they are more likely to give birth prematurely , and have small , low birth - weight children .

According to him, air pollution also affects neuro - development and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma , and childhood cancer .

The WHO Director General added that children who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life .

While new born and young children are also more susceptible to household air pollution in homes that regularly use polluting fuels and technologies for cooking , heating and lighting .

As part of a Global Response Initiative (GRI), the WHO DG urged for action by the health sector to inform, educate , provide resources to health professionals , and engage in inter - sectoral policy making .

He also encouraged all countries to work towards meeting WHO global air quality guidelines , by reducing the over - dependence on fossil fuels , investing in improvements in energy efficiency and facilitating the uptake of renewable energy sources .

WHO Director General further pointed out that better waste management can reduce the amount of waste that is burned and thereby reducing community air pollution and exclusive use of clean technologies fuels for household cooking , heating and lighting can drastically improve the air quality within homes, industries and the surrounding environment .

“ Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives . This is inexcusable . Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfil their full potential ,” Tedros said.