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UNICEF: Air pollution kills 600,000 children yearly, threatens 2 billion


Air pollution

(NaturalNews) Dirty air ,mostly from the world's developing economies, is killing hundreds of thousands of children every year while putting hundreds of millions more at risk, a recently released report by UNICEF discovered.

NPR is reporting that the UNICEF document is based, in large part, on data gathered via satellite imagery to find out which parts of the globe were most heavily impacted by polluted air.

The report notes that kids in these most heavily impacted regions live "where outdoor air pollution exceeds international guidelines by at least six times." In all, the organization claims that some 2 billion children are breathing air that is considered a "long term hazard," exceeding minimum standards established by the World Health Organization.

UNICEF Director Anthony Lake, a former national security advisor under President Bill Clinton, said in a statement cited by NPR that air pollution is primarily responsible for "the deaths of around 600,000 children under five every year – and it threatens the lives and futures of millions more every day."

Lake noted further that pollutants don't simply harm children's developing lungs, but that they can also "cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains," which impacts their futures in a major way. "No society can afford to ignore air pollution," he added.

Report timed to conflate air pollution with "climate change"

The report also claimed that poor air quality has a disproportionate impact on children, mostly because their bodies and systems are still in development. In the lungs especially, their respiratory systems are much more prone to blockages. Also, they breathe about twice as fast as adults which means they take in more pollutants per unit of body weight.

Researchers for the UNICEF report, released in October, found that air pollution can cause a woman to have a miscarriage or can cause early delivery of the baby, as well as low birth weight. And it is responsible for nearly 1 in 10 deaths of children under the age of five. Air pollution also creates a drag on a nation's economy and its society in terms of added health care costs, already amounting to as much as 0.3 percent of global gross domestic product (which, in 2014, amounted to about $77.83 trillion, nearly $17 trillion of which came from the U.S. alone).

In addition, air pollution's impacts on youngsters extend far beyond their childhood. In fact, "studies have shown that the lung capacity of children living in polluted environments can be reduced by 20 percent, similar to the effect of growing up in a home with secondhand cigarette smoke."

CNN reported that the UNICEF document was timed for release ahead of the November 7-18 UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morrocco, which is also known as COP22, the 22nd session of the Conference of Parties. The conference comes as citizens around the world rank "climate change" dead last on their list of concerns.

Most kids at risk are in Asia

The last convention was held in Paris in November 2015 and got a lot more attention because a major ISIS-inspired terrorist attack had recently taken place in the city. But again, as the UN poll indicates above, there just isn't a lot of concern about the issue.

That said, air pollution in many regions of the world certainly is real and ought to be alarming. Of the 2 billion children most at risk of developmental issues tied to air pollution, 620 million live in South Asia, 520 million in Africa, and 450 million in East Asia and the Pacific, according to UNICEF's report.

The pollution is most common in low-income, urban regions and is largely due to vehicle exhaust, heavy use of fossil fuels and burning of waste, said the report.

"Developed countries have made great strides in reducing outdoor air pollution and protecting children from indoor pollutants," Lake said. "Developing countries -- both low- and middle-income -- can and must do so, too."

Sources:

NPR.org

Statista.com

CNN.com

UNFCCC.int

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