"Another Way We're Letting Them Down": Report Shows Deadly Toll of Air Pollution on Children

Toxic air pollution poses an “enormous” risk to children worldwide, according to a new report from UNICEF released Monday.

In fact, the analysis finds that indoor and outdoor air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under age five every year, with almost one in seven of the world’s children—300 million—living in places where ultra-fine particulate matter in the air exceeds international guidelines by at least six times.

With “[m]any of these children…already disadvantaged by poverty and deprivation,” the report states, “[a]ir pollution is yet another threat to their health and well-being—and yet another way in which the world is letting them down.”

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The UNICEF report, entitled Clean Air for Children (pdf), used satellite imagery to come up with its findings, confirming “that around two billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution, caused by factors such as vehicle emissions, heavy use of fossil fuels, dust, and burning of waste, exceeds minimum air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organization.”

South Asia and Africa are the regions most starkly impacted, as visible in the map below: