A special study conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shows that hundreds of thousands of children die a year from diseases caused by air pollution. In addition, hundreds of millions of children are exposed to air pollution levels exceeding the global guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO).


Illustration Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

A new report about children and air pollution released by UNICEF presents a very grim picture. Around 600,000 children under the age of five die annually due to air pollution. In addition, about three million children are exposed the air pollution levels that are six times higher than the global guidelines set by the WHO.

According to the report, children are at a greater risk than adults because they breathe twice as fast and taken in more air in relation to their weight while their brain and immune system are still developing. “The impact is commensurately shocking,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Millions more suffer from respiratory diseases that diminish their resilience and affect their physical and cognitive development.”

In addition, the report states that two billion children in the world are breathing polluted air. Two-thirds of them live in South Asia, mostly in North India, about 520 million live in Africa and another 450 million reside in East Asia, mainly in China.

The report was released in preparation for the meeting between the representatives from over 200 countries in Morocco in order to discuss the topic of air pollution and climate change.