Climate Action

WHO study finds over 90% of children breathe toxic air every day

A new study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that over 90 per cent of the world’s children are breathing toxic air every day.

  • 29 October 2018
  • Rachel Cooper

A new study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that over 90 per cent of the world’s children are breathing toxic air every day.

The report found that globally 93 per cent of the world’s children under 15 years of age are exposed to ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels above WHO air quality guidelines.  

Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution because they breathe more rapidly than adults, so they absorb more pollutants.

The report also noted that in 2016, air pollution contributed to the deaths of 600,000 children under the age of 15. As a result, air pollution is one of the leading threats to child health and accounts for almost 1 in 10 deaths in children under the age of 5.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives. This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air, so they can grow and fulfil their full potential.”

This study has been published on the eve of the WHO’s First Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health which is held in Geneva. This event will provide an opportunity for world leaders, ministers of health, energy and environment, mayors and scientists to pledge against this serious health threat.

Air pollution is a serious global problem, annually it now causes more deaths than tobacco.

The World Health Organisation has called on governments across the globe to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels, invest in improving energy efficiency and facilitate the uptake of renewable energy sources.

In the UK, leading health professionals have called on the Government to implement a new clean air act that will ensure pollutants are reduced and health problems lessened amid growing concern for the nation’s toxic air.

Find the full report here.