Air pollution has now emerged as one of the leading threats to child health, accounting for nearly 1 in 10 deaths in children below five.
According to the World Health Organization, children are more susceptible to pollution because they breathe more often, taking in more pollutants, and are closer to the ground, which is where some pollutants have higher concentrations.
Air pollution is having 'vast and awful impact on child health, ' and the World Health Organization says the problem is only getting worse.
The study by the United Nations body, which examined the health toll on children breathing health-hazardous levels of both outdoor and household air pollution, focused on unsafe particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5). Among millions of other children affected with the effects of air pollution it leads to severe symptoms of various conditions such as asthma, respiratory diseases, loss of intelligence, excessive weight gain and ear infections. Air pollution also increases the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life. Children have been found to be more vulnerable to the ill-effects of air pollution as they breathe more rapidly than adults, thus absorbing more pollutants, the report stated.
"The solutions are a basic public health agenda that will have plenty of benefits for public health and the environment", she said.
The WHO is calling for the exclusive use of clean technologies and fuels for household cooking, heating and lighting, as well as better waste management which could also help by reducing the amount of waste burned within communities. In high-income countries, 52% of children under five years are exposed to similar levels. A senior scientist at IITM, Pune has revealed satellite images of North India showing a large number of biomass fire spots in Delhi while weather experts also state that pollution in the region could escalate as western disturbances could hit the Himalayan region from October 31st onwards.
More than two million deaths occur in India prematurely every year, accounting for 25 per cent of the global deaths due to poor air quality.
Dr. Maria Neira is the WHO's Director for public health and environment.
Almost 1.8 billion children around the world are exposed to toxic air, a United Nation's health agency has said.
Steps should also be taken to limit children's exposure to polluted air by building schools and playgrounds farther away from power plants, factories and busy roads, the release added.
As part of its call for action from the global community, WHO is recommending a series of "straightforward" measures to reduce the health risk from ambient fine particulate matter, or PM2.5.
In addition, policies need to be implemented to decrease air pollution.
Unfortunately, many parts of the world are experiencing dangerously high levels of air pollution, and it is taking a heavy toll on the lives of children everywhere.