Published: Tue, October 30, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

EU lists air pollution hotspots as UN warns on child health

EU lists air pollution hotspots as UN warns on child health

These and other methods of preventing air pollution will be discussed at WHO's first Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, which will be held at the WHO headquarters in Geneva from October 30 to November 1.

According to WHO, in low-and middle-income countries around the world, 98% of all children under five are exposed to PM2.5 levels above WHO air quality guidelines, whilst in comparison, in high-income countries, 52% of children under five are exposed to levels above WHO air quality guidelines. It also said 9 out of 10 people on the planet breathes in toxic air.

Delhi's air continued to remain in the "very poor" category with an overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of 348 on Monday.

In low and middle-income countries in Asia such as India, 99% of children under five are exposed to PM 2.5 pollutants higher than World Health Organization standards.

"Air pollution is affecting all of us but children are the most vulnerable of all", she said, noting the alarm among child health experts about the links between toxic air and respiratory diseases, cancer and damaged intelligence.

The Copenhagen-based agency premature deaths across Europe in 2015 down to air pollution mostly resulted from tiny airborne particles known as PM2.5.

According to the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research, the pollution is likely to increase to the upper levels of very poor but will not touch "severe" level for the next two days. "Not only the fact that 600,000 of them die every year because of lower respiratory infections", explains Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health and Environment.

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The WHO report cited a case study that investigated whether exposure to PM2.5 during pregnancy was associated with low birth weight in an integrated rural-urban, mother-child cohort in Tamil Nadu.

"It attains more importance in geographies like India where more than a million people lose their lives to the health emergency", Sunil Dahiya, an air pollution campaigner with Greenpeace India, said.

Air pollution is the "new tobacco" and is responsible for 7 million premature deaths annually, writes WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a Guardian op-ed.

In an alarming reflection of poor air quality in the state, 10 out of 12 most polluted cities of the country on Monday were from UP.

Unlike the protective ozone layer in the stratosphere, ground-level ozone is harmful, formed when emissions like NO2 react with other pollutants and "cook" in heat or sunlight.

The EEA study also revealed that the highest concentrations of PM2.5 are in northern Italy, Poland, the Balkans and Turkey.

In response to falling air qualityin India, the country'sEnvironment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) started implementation of a graded response action plan for the second year running, under which certain measures are taken as the air quality worsens.

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