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2 Billion Children Inhale Toxic Air, UNICEF Warns

Nov 11, 2016 10:41 AM EST

A recent study showed that children who are exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to have higher number of pediatric visits. This is why some countries like Australia and the UK declared it illegal to do so.  However, it's not only tobacco smoke that can be dangerous. A recent shocking report published by UNICEF this week raises concern on kids' health because of the heavy levels of polluted air they are breathing in.

The report titled, Clear The Air For Children, discovered that air pollution has become so rampant in some places that it has become the number one reason for deaths of approximately 600,000 each year falling under the age of five.

Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, said that besides being detrimental to children's developing lungs, pollutants can also damage their brains permanently, which is why every society has to make an effort to give a thought to this ever-growing menace.

The study involved the team at UNICEF tracking kids' exposure to air pollution using satellite imagery. They discovered that roughly two billion children live in regions where the pollution levels are way above the threshold limit set by the World Health Organization (WHO). From among these children, around 300 million reside in places where the levels of air pollution are six times or even more than that recommended by the WHO.

Children from poor backgrounds are at greater risk of falling ill or dying because of air pollution since they live close to highways or in regions with greater industrial activity, said the study. It's time now for people to give a rethought on powering cities, moving within cities, and finding a feasible way to minimize emissions, according to Adrian Martinez, a staff at Earthjustice, a non-profit organization based in the United States.

UNICEF also found that pollution mainly takes place in Asia in cities like Delhi and Beijing. Also, African children are prone to the risk of air pollution mainly because of growing industrial activity and urbanization, said the report.

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