Study: Almost hundreds of thousands of children die from air pollution each year

Unicef ​​report: Every seventh child breathes polluted air
The children's aid organization Unicef ​​warns of the dangerous consequences of global pollution. Around 300 million children worldwide have to breathe extremely harmful air. Every year, nearly 600,000 children under the age of five die from the effects of the toxic load.

Almost every seventh child breathes heavily polluted air
It has long been known that environmental pollution is associated with a high health risk. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that air pollution is causing more and more deaths worldwide. Now there are new figures from the UN children's aid organization Unicef. According to the experts, almost every seventh child in the world lives in an area with heavily polluted air. Well over half a million children die of the consequences each year.

600,000 dead children a year
According to a Unicef ​​press release, around 300 million children worldwide are exposed to air pollution that exceeds six times or more than the World Health Organization (WHO) target.

"Air pollution contributes significantly to the death of around 600,000 children under the age of five annually - and threatens the lives and future of millions more every day," said Unicef ​​Director Anthony Lake.

danger for body and life
Even small amounts of fine dust can be dangerous. According to health experts, the particles can get into the heart via the bloodstream. Possible consequences include severe calcification of the coronary arteries, inflammation of the heart muscle or heart attacks.

Air pollution primarily endangers the lungs - and also the brain. "Pollutants not only damage the developing lungs of children, but can also permanently impair the development of the child's brain - and thus also endanger the future of children," said Lake.

Asia and Africa particularly affected
According to Unicef, satellite images show that around two billion children worldwide live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds WHO's minimum guidelines. 300,000 of them breathe extremely polluted air. Children in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, as well as in the East Asian and Pacific regions, are most at risk.

Various causes listed
The study lists vehicle emissions, factory emissions, waste incineration and dust as the causes. In addition, the indoor exposure caused by open fireplaces for cooking and heating, especially in rural areas, was discussed.

According to the experts, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases are in many cases demonstrably due to a high level of pollution in the indoor and outdoor air. According to the information, they accounted for almost ten percent of the deaths of children under the age of five.

"Central to our future"
Unicef, which published its report a week before the start of the COP 22 climate conference in Marrakech (Morocco), appeals to its participants to pay more attention to the health risk to children from toxic substances in the air and to reduce the pollution in their countries urgently.

“If we protect the quality of our air, we protect our children. Both are central to our future, ”said Unicef ​​Director Anthony Lake.

Fine dust pollution in Europe
Although the Unicef ​​study shows that air pollution is most intense in Asia and Africa, pollutants in the air are also the cause of thousands of deaths in Europe, as studies have shown.

Even in our latitudes, the situation is often dramatic. In the past year, researchers calculated and reported that Europe's cities with the greatest fine dust pollution in the future, which is also a German city below: Stuttgart. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Air Pollution 101. National Geographic (September 2021).