Air pollution kills 2000 children a day

A shocking study by the Health Effects Institute has shown a disturbing effect of air pollution

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Air pollution kills 2000 children a day
© Kevin Frayer / Stringer Getty Images

The shocking State of Global Air study, conducted by the Health Effects Institute, revealed that air pollution causes the deaths of 2,000 children a day. Air pollution caused 8.1 million deaths globally in 2021, making it the second leading risk factor for death, surpassed only by malnutrition.

Pollution is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of five, considering that almost 2000 die every day from exposure to polluted air, on average. And this happens in more vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa. In 2021, more than 700,000 deaths of children under five have been linked to exposure to air pollution, including 500,000 caused by cooking indoors with polluting fuels.

This year's report introduces data on exposure and health effects of NO2 for the first time. And to think that since 2000, the mortality rate of children under five has decreased by 53%, thanks to efforts to improve access to clean energy, health care, nutrition and awareness of the harms of pollution domestic.

Pollution
Pollution© Getty Images / Stringer
 

Exposure to air pollution in young children is also linked to pneumonia, responsible for the death of one in five children globally, and asthma, the most common chronic respiratory disease in children. Fine particulate pollution is the main culprit, being responsible for 7.8 million global deaths. These tiny particles, measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, can enter the lungs and bloodstream, increasing the risk of noncommunicable diseases in adults, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Ozone and nitrogen dioxide also contribute significantly to health problems related to air pollution.ted to air pollution.

Pallavi Pant, Head of Global Health at HEI, explained: "This new report clearly reminds us of the significant impact that air pollution has on human health, with an excessively high burden borne by young children, older populations and low- and middle-income countries. An opportunity to cities and countries to consider air quality and air pollution as high-risk factors when developing health policies and other noncommunicable disease prevention and control programs."