In recent years, a vast number of studies have been carried out to explore the detrimental effects of air pollution on health and wellbeing. In a UNICEF report, it was reported that almost one in seven of the world’s children, 300 million, live in areas with high toxic levels of air pollution.
A recent quote from UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake regarding the issues with air pollution suggests an urgency, demanding action to be taken place to combat this global issue.
“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. 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.”
The UNICEF report also highlights the negative implications of indoor air pollution on children; a range of respiratory diseases, as well as pneumonia, are linked with indoor air pollution. Children are more susceptible than adults to indoor air pollution, this is due to a number of biological factors, such as their lungs, brains and immune systems are still at developmental stages and their respiratory tracts are more permeable.
UNICEF is asking world leaders attending the upcoming COP 22 (Marrakesh, Morocco) to take four fundamental steps in their countries to protect children from both indoor and outdoor air pollution.
The Big Four
- Reduce Air Pollution
- Increase Children’s Healthcare
- Minimise Children’s Exposure
- Monitor Air Pollution
To achieve lower levels of air pollution UNICEF are taking drastic steps to help protect children from a range of life-threatening illnesses on international scale. Lake highlighted the significance of this global problem:
“We protect our children when we protect the quality of our air. Both are central to our future”.