India is facing a major pollution crisis. 14 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India. This has caused it to hold the burden of the highest pollution related mortality rate and disease. According to a report by the World Health Organisation, there were about 60,987 deaths of children under the age of five years old in India, that was caused due to exposure to PM2.5 in 2016. Of them, 32,889 were girls and 28,097 were boys.
India has the highest number of deaths in the age bracket of less than five years old. In the age bracket of five to 14, India saw the deaths of 4,360 children in 2016. More than 2 million premature deaths are estimated to occur due to air pollution. This accounts for 25% of the global deaths.
According to WHO, more than 90 per cent of children in the world which accounts to about 1.8 billion children, breathe toxic air every day. Out of this, about 6 lakh children in 2016 are estimated to have died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.
Children are susceptible to hazardous effects of pollution both during pregnancy and after being born. Pregnant women exposed to air pollution are more likely to give birth prematurely. Babies are vulnerable to the effects of pollution as they breathe more rapidly than adults, absorbing more pollutants. For children, as their bodies and brains are still developing, it also affects them more.
The babies of the pregnant women living in highly polluted areas often suffer from issues such as low birth weight. Air pollution also impacts the neurodevelopment of the child, their cognitive abilities and motor development in the longer run. It can also trigger asthma and childhood cancer. Later on in adult life, these children are also susceptible to develop chronic diseases such as cardio vascular disease.
In order to combat pollution, WHO is urging the countries to adopt urgent measures. It has suggested switching to more energy efficient lifestyle and urban planning in order to reduce emissions. Besides, it has recommended that children should be especially kept away from pollution. Hence, the schools and playgrounds should be kept away from roads, factories and power plants.
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The CSR Journal Team