Study: One in four child deaths is related to pollution

WHO warns of the effects of pollution on children under the age of 5
Many deaths among children under the age of five are due to the increasing pollution of our environment. Researchers have now found that one in four deaths of children of this age is actually related to polluted air, water, and a general lack of hygiene.

In their current investigation, scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) found that one in four deaths in children under the age of five is related to pollution. The experts published a press release on the results of their study.

Many people around the world need safe fuels for cooking
The world's polluted environment kills 1.7 million children each year, the WHO authors explain. Many of these deaths could be avoided by intervention that has already been tested. These include, for example, the provision of clean fuels for safe cooking indoors. In this way, dangerous air pollution in living spaces can be prevented.

Young children are particularly at risk from pollution
A polluted environment is a deadly danger, especially for small children, says WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan. Their developing organs, immune systems and respiratory system make the children particularly vulnerable to the effects of dirty air and contaminated water, Chan continues.

Pneumonia is the main cause of death in children under five years of age
Air pollution damage can begin in the womb. The result of this is that the risk of premature birth increases. After birth, for example, there is a risk that pneumonia will develop due to air pollution. This disease is the main cause of death in children under the age of five, the authors explain. In addition, the air pollution leads to lifelong lung diseases such as asthma and can also increase the risk of heart disease, strokes and cancer, the specialists add.

Environmental influences have a strong impact on child death
The current report presents a comprehensive review of the effects of unhealthy environmental influences. The researchers found that around 570,000 children under the age of five die each year from the effects of respiratory infections. Another approximately 361,000 children die from diarrhea, for example as a result of polluted water and poor hygiene.

What impact does air pollution have on our children?
WHO experts estimate that about eleven to fourteen percent of children ages five and older have symptoms of asthma. Approximately half of these cases are probably related to air pollution. The study also suggests that the warmer temperatures and higher levels of carbon dioxide are related to climate change and increased pollen count, the doctors explain. This effect causes the existing asthma to get worse.

Diarrhea and malaria cost many children their lives
The World Health Organization scientists also emphasize that a large proportion of child deaths are caused by causes such as diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia. These deaths could be prevented by reducing pollution in our environment.

How can we reduce child deaths?
Improving access to clean water and safe fuels for cooking, removing unsafe building materials and lead paints, and reducing the use of hazardous pesticides and harmful chemicals could prevent tons of deaths in the long run, WHO experts say.

Malaria deaths must be reduced
An estimated 200,000 deaths in children under the age of five are due to malaria alone. This number could be significantly reduced by avoiding unsanitary drinking water storage and thus reducing the habitats for mosquito growth, the researchers say.

New harmful environmental influences are on the advance
A number of new harmful environmental influences are currently emerging, for example from discarded old mobile phones and other electronic waste. By next year, this waste is expected to reach 50 million tons, experts say. If such waste is not properly recycled, it can expose children to dangerous toxins. These then lead to reduced intelligence, attention disorders, lung damage and cancer, warn the WHO doctors. (as)

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