The most up to date environmental concerns about pollution have been focused mostly on the pollution of land and water. Though these are obviously very important concerns, however scientists have not been nearly as proactive regarding air pollution. Air pollution is not as drastic or dramatic as the oil spills and rivers’ changing water-color. According to a new report released by UNICEF, toxic air pollution poses an enormous threat to children worldwide.
The report’s state that both indoor and outdoor air pollution is a massive contributing factor in the deaths of nearly 600,000 young children under the age of five every year. It was also found that nearly one in seven of the world’s children are living in area where the density of ultra-fine particulate matter is in excess of international guidelines. The report states that the main causes of air pollution as being vehicle emissions, heavy fossil fuel use, dust, and the improper burning of waste. Many of the children affected by this are already at a disadvantage, living in difficult conditions such as poverty. Around 2 billion children live in areas that do not meet minimum air quality standards, with the majority in South Asia. Indoor pollution was also a factor. This is usually caused by the use of coal and wood for heating and cooking.
Outdoor and indoor pollution are directly linked to the respiratory problems and diseases that account for nearly one in 10 deaths among children under the age of five. The report also noted that pollution can impair immune response and brain development in children which can then result in permanent damage. Children are the most vulnerable to air pollution because their respiratory tracts are more weaker and they also breath faster than adults, taking in more air. A few courses of actions to improve the problem are: reducing pollution, increasing children’s access to healthcare, minimizing children’s exposure, and monitoring air pollution. Unfortunately, most of these are difficult to enforce and enact. Clean air is just as important as clean water. We need to make the changes necessary to protect our children and our future.