Polluted environments kill 1.7-M children each year – WHO reports
UNITED NATIONS, March 7 (PNA/Xinhua) — Unhealthy environments are responsible for one-quarter of child deaths, according to two new reports from the United Nations health agency.
The UN News Center on Monday quoted the latest information as saying that polluted environments take the lives of 1.7 million children under the age of five.
“A polluted environment is a deadly one – particularly for young children,” Margaret Chan, Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), was quoted as saying, adding “their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”
In one of the two reports, Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment, WHO announced that many of the common causes of death among children aged between one month and five years of age are preventable with safe water and clear cooking fuels. These include diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.
The main pollutant is in the air, resulting in 570,000 deaths each year among children under five. Air pollution can stunt brain development and reduce lung function and trigger asthma. In the longer-term, exposure to air pollution can increase the child’s risk of contracting heart disease, stroke or cancer.
The reports also point out harmful chemicals that work through food chain, such as fluoride, lead and mercury, as well as the impact that climate change and UV rays have on children’s development, the report said. (PNA/Xinhua)