UNICEF released a report this Monday that shows the impact that air pollution has on the health of children worldwide. The international organization made a plea for world leaders to come together and take steps to improve the situation. Air pollution is not at all a small problem. And, when it comes to health hazards, it is very difficult to stay away from it. Children are particularly affected by air pollution. Each year, more children die from the negative effects of air pollution than from malaria and HIV/AIDS put together.
A Report to Raise Awareness about the Effects of Air Pollution
UNICEF released a report with the title “Clear the Air for Children”. It is part of an effort by the international organization to raise awareness about the health hazards of pollution in the air. Outdoor and indoor air pollution causes a multitude of health problems. Many of them lead to death and there is very little doctors can do. Around 600,000 children under the age of five die every year. These children could live if countries did more to limit pollution of the air.
Anthony Lake is the Executive Director for UNICEF. In the introduction to the report, he warns about the risk that air pollution poses to pregnancies and unborn babies.
“Pollutants don’t only harm children’s developing lungs, they can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains, and, thus, their futures. No society can afford to ignore air pollution.”
Says UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
Fighting Climate Change and Pollution
UNICEF released the report ahead of the COP22. The United Nations Climate Change Conference is going to take place in Marrakech, Morocco from November 7 to November 18. World leaders are going to get together and try to find solutions to fight climate change. The countries with the worst records of pollution are going to be there. Air pollution affects low-income countries in particular. But even developed countries suffer from too much pollution in the air. In the United States, air pollution causes 38,000 deaths every year.
Reducing pollution and fighting climate change is something that requires a global effort. The previous UN conference on climate change that took place last year produce the Paris Accord. The agreement reached a major goal. Countries agreed to meet targets to keep global warming below a threshold of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists agree that more than that would be a critical situation for the planet.
Ahead of the COP22, UNICEF is asking world leaders to commit to making a change for the sake of the children’s health. The international organization wants to see countries take important steps to cleaner air.
One step is reducing pollution. Investing more in energy efficiency and relying less on fossil fuel would help achieve that. Another step is increasing access to healthcare for children. More information programs about pneumonia would help save lives. Since pneumonia is a leading killer for children under the age of five.
Another step that UNICEF is asking for is minimizing the exposure of children to air pollution. Countries should make an effort to keep schools further away from factories and other sources of pollution.
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