etvfutures.com
etvfutures.com December 18, 2017


17 million babies worldwide breathing toxic air, United Nations warns

06 December 2017, 08:51 | Lena Norman

Money Sharma AFP

12 million babies in South Asia are exposed to air pollution six times the safe limit Unicef report

Scientists have not conclusively proved findings about air pollution's effects on brain development, but a rapidly growing body of evidence creates "reason for concern", UNICEF's Nicholas Rees, the report's author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Not only do pollutants harm babies' developing lungs - they can permanently damage their developing brains - and, thus, their futures", UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a statement.

Air pollution potentially affects children's brains through several mechanisms. It also benefits their societies – realized in reduced health care costs, increased productivity and a safer, cleaner environment for everyone, ” he stressed.

Satellite imagery used to assess pollution levels around the world found that South Asian countries accounted for 12.2 million of the total number of affected children but that there is also a growing problem in African cities.

The brains of developing children are especially vulnerable because they can be harmed by smaller doses of toxic chemicals compared to adults' brains, the report states.

Ultrafine toxic particles can enter the body through the bloodstream and travel to the brain, damaging its barrier and causing neuro-inflammation. Then, specific air pollutant particles such as magnetite can lead to oxidative stress which is often the cause of neurodegenerative diseases.

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A UNICEF report released on Wednesday, Dec 6 - a day after the first International Smog Day - says babies in South Asia face the danger of poor brain development due to air pollution.

These include investing in renewable sources of energy to cut air pollution, increasing the amount of green spaces in urban areas, and improving both knowledge and monitoring of air pollution.

It further recommends improving children's overall health to bolster their resilience, and promotes exclusive breastfeeding and good nutrition.

The report urges parents to reduce children's exposure to harmful chemicals, including from tobacco products and cooking stoves.

Reducing children's exposure in the areas of high air pollution is also very important.

UNICEF warns that as more countries grow into modern, urban societies, governments have failed to provide "adequate protection and pollution reduction measures" to protect young children.



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