Immediate action needed in South Asia to clean the air for children

NEW YORK –  Various cities of South Asia including Delhi, Lahore , Dhaka etc are continuously falling under the poor air quality since long.  This has a big impact on the health of people and lives of Children and aged population.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore has issued a press statement showing the deep concern of the organisation on the toxic air in South Asia.

Around 620 million children in the region breathe polluted, toxic air. Because they have smaller lungs, breathe twice as fast as adults, and lack the immunities that come with age, children endure its damaging health and neurological effects the most, Henrietta said.

Complete  press release statement : 

“I was just in South Asia where I saw first-hand how children continue to suffer from the dire consequences of air pollution.”

“The air quality was at a crisis level. You could smell the toxic fog even from behind an air filtration mask. From every neighborhood, you could see the pollution obscuring buildings, trees and people. Schools and offices closed or curtailed hours. With winter approaching, the situation is set to become even worse.

“Around 620 million children in the region breathe polluted, toxic air. Because they have smaller lungs, breathe twice as fast as adults, and lack the immunities that come with age, children endure its damaging health and neurological effects the most.

“Air pollution is associated with one of the biggest killers of children – pneumonia, and linked to asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections. Air pollution damages brain tissue and undermines cognitive development in babies and young children, leading to lifelong consequences that can affect their learning outcomes and future potential. There is evidence to suggest that adolescents exposed to higher levels of air pollution are more likely to experience mental health problems.

“The toxicity to children’s brain development and health is also toxic to society, which no government can afford to ignore. The ripple effects extend far and wide. When children are sick, they frequently miss school. In extreme cases, when the air is so toxic, schools may close, as we have seen in Delhi just this week. Pollution levels were literally above the range that sensors could measure, many times above what can reasonably be considered safe for children and clearly presenting grave risks to their health and development.”

“Health expenses may increase if children need care and treatment. Parents may need to stay home too, in order to care for their children. Potential income is lost, and quality of life is reduced. The effects of air pollution on children can be felt well into adulthood.

“UNICEF is calling for urgent action to address this air quality crisis. Governments in the region and around the world should take urgent steps to reduce air pollution by investing in cleaner, renewable sources of energy to replace fossil fuel combustion; provide affordable access to clean public transport; increase green spaces in urban areas; change agricultural practices and provide better waste management options to prevent open burning of harmful chemicals.

“Children have a right to live in a clean environment and to breathe clean air. We must act now.”

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