Environmental pollutants claim lives of 1.7 million children each year

Generva: Each year, environmental pollutants lead to the death of an estimated 1.7 million children under five, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a new report on Monday.

The new numbers equate to these unhealthy environments being the cause of one in four deaths of children one month to five years old.

"A polluted environment is a deadly one - particularly for young children", said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. The report is especially alarming as causes of these deaths include mundane and often neglected factors like lack of sanitation, poor hygiene practices and unsafe water, and also injuries.

Additionally, when infants and pre-schoolers are exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke they have an increased risk of pneumonia in childhood, and a lifelong increased risk of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, according to the World Health Organization report.

The most common causes of child death like malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia can be prevented by measures like using insecticide-treated bed nets, better access to clean water and clean cooking fuels.

"These are very much affected by air pollution, water and sanitation, which is inadequate, but also the disease vectors, mosquitos around the house and the community", said Annette Pruss-Ustun, scientist in WHO's Public Health and Environmental Department.

570,000 children under 5 years die from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke-smoke that is released by burning tobacco products, such as cigarettes. That means now, more than ever, society needs to take actionable steps to stop climate change and protect children's future - talk to your representatives, support green organizations, and make switches in your own life to cut down on waste. "The impact of the environment on children's health".

"This increases their childhood risk of pneumonia as well as their lifelong risk of chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma".

Neira said that providing clean energy and clean fuels to households will have enormous benefits for the health of the children and others as well. The volume of so-called e-waste is expected to reach 50 million metric tonnes by 2018 - a 19 percent increase from 2014. What exacerbates the problem is that chemicals, like mercury and lead pesticides, become incorporated into the food chain as these are routinely used on food crops. Higher temperatures have been linked to pollen growth and higher rates of asthma, decreasing fresh water supplies, and altered food crop harvests.

"While leaded petrol has been phased out nearly entirely in all countries, lead is still widespread in paints, affecting brain development", the reports said.

Housing: Ensure clean fuel for heating and cooking, no mould or pests, and remove unsafe building materials and lead paint.

  • Joanne Flowers