Billions of Children Affected by Air Pollution

Air pollution is doing a lot more harm than people thought. Air pollution kills around 600,000 every year and makes another 2 billion people sick. Pollution in the air especially in countries that are still considered to be developing countries are seeing millions of children die every year and many more are at risk. This is according to a study by the group UNICEF. This information is based on health records as well as satellite projections of air pollution.

air pollution and children
Ng Han Guan/AP

Children that live in area with a great deal of pollution are prone to breathe in air that exceeds six times the international guideline for pollution. Two billion children are breathing in air that may pose a long term hazard to their health. The air exceeds the standards that are set forth by the World Health Organization.

According to the UNICEF director, Anthony Lake, who was a national security advisor under former President Clinton said that air pollution is a threat to millions of people especially children on a daily basis. He also mentioned that pollution affects the growing lungs of children and can damage the barrier between the blood and the brain. This can interfere with the development of the brain.

According to studies on air pollution children are at the greatest risk fro developing health issues since their bodies are still developing especially their lungs. Children also breathe at twice the rate that adults do which means they breathe in more pollution.

Researchers have also found that air pollution has increased the rates of miscarriages or babies being born premature. Children that were born in areas with high pollution rates were also at risk for low birth rates. It has been discovered that one in ten deaths for children under the age of 5 years old have died to pollution related health conditions. Air pollution costs the world more than $77 trillion dollars in health care in just the year 2014 alone. Each year the cost is going up.

According to studies conducted by researchers at UNICF children experience the negative signs of pollution throughout their life. Being exposed to pollution at a young age can reduce the functioning of the lungs by 20 percent when the child becomes an adult. Pollution has compared to having the same effects of second hand smoke.
This information about pollution and the effects that it is having on the health of children was released before the Un Climate Change Conferences that is help in Morocco. This is the 22nd time this session has taken place with representatives from all over the world in attendance. One of the top concerns for this session was climate change and how it is affecting the health of people especially children all over the world.

There are children at risk for developing negative health conditions from pollution all over the world. It seems that children in Asia are at the greatest risk. According to the 2 billion children that are suffering due to the poor conditions of the air 620 million of these children live in South Asia. This area is still developing and children are at risk due to unsafe industrialization and factories. Many children still work in factories in this part of the world and are exposed to harmful chemicals on a daily basis. East Asia is not fairing much better for the health of their children. There are 450 million children that are affected by air pollution in this part of the continent. East Asia is a mixture of large cities where pollution is created. There are also areas that are still developing which put a child at risk for conditions that are related to air pollution.

air pollution and children health

Africa is not looking much better for children as far as air quality is concerned. In the continent of Africa there are 520 million children that are affected by air pollution. Africa is still considered to be a third world nation. They also have some unsafe practices as well as a lack of information on air pollution and how to keep their children safe.

Experts have examined the main causes of pollution in low income areas of the world as well as urban regions. Pollution in these areas is caused by the heavy use and burning of fossil fuels as well as the burning of waste. Materials such as plastics are being burned in these areas releasing harmful chemicals into the air. Exhaust from vehicles is also contributing to the amount of pollution in the air.

Developing countries are trying to take steps to make the air cleaner for their children to breathe. They are trying to pass clean air acts. Low and middle income countries are also providing information to reduce the amount of pollution that children are exposed to indoors such as cigarette smoke.

While air pollution continues to be a problem for children all over the world there are new laws and information that is being released to help reduce the amount of pollution that these children are exposed to. This will help reduce the cost being spent of pollution related illnesses and this money can go towards fixing the problem of air pollution.


  1. Clear the Air for Children document from UNICEF:
  2. CNN news report:

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