A newly-released report by UN children’s agency UNICEF, said more than 300 million children live in areas with severe air pollution, at least six times higher than international limits.
The agency on Monday said in New York that the report entitled “Clear the air for children” was released ahead of the upcoming 22nd Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 22).
The agency said the meeting, slated for Nov. 7 to 18 in Morocco’s Marrakesh, aimed at urging all countries to take soonest actions to cut air pollution.
UNICEF attributed air pollution, both outdoor and indoor, as a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under five years old every year and threatens the health, lives and futures of millions more.
“Children are uniquely vulnerable to air pollution, breathing faster than adults on average and taking in more air relative to their body weight.
“Children’s lungs, brains and immune systems are still developing, which make them more susceptible to polluted air that could cause lifetime harm,’’ he said.
The agency noted that South Asia has 620 million children the largest number worldwide, living in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds minimum air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organisation.
It added that indoor pollution is commonly caused by use of fuels like coal and wood for cooking and heating, which mostly affects children in low- income and rural areas.
UNICEF said in the report that measures should be taken by all countries to monitor and reduce air pollution, minimise children’s exposure to air pollution and increase their access to healthcare.