Home NewsInternational 2,000 under-five children die daily from air pollution – UNICEF

2,000 under-five children die daily from air pollution – UNICEF

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNCEF) has revealed that nearly 2,000 children under the age of five die daily due to the negative effects of air pollution.

Deputy Executive Director of the fund, Kitty van der Heijden made this known in response to the new UNICEF-backed report released yesterday by an independent United States of America-based non-profit research organisation, Health Effects Institute, and the State of Global Air.

According to the report, which is a comprehensive analysis of data for air quality and health impacts for countries around the world in 2021, air pollution accounted for 8.1 million deaths globally and pollution is now the second leading global risk factor for premature death.

It added that it was responsible for over 700,000 children’s deaths in 2021, especially those under the age of five.

The report further revealed that children are uniquely vulnerable to air pollution and the damage can start in the womb with health effects that can last a lifetime.

It further stated that young children’s exposure to air pollution has resulted in one in five deaths globally, while pneumonia and asthma affect children with inequities more than it does in high-income countries.

UNICEF Deputy ED, van der Heijden said, “Despite progress in maternal and child health, every day almost 2000 children under five years die because of health impacts linked to air pollution.

“Our inaction is having profound effects on the next generation, with lifelong health and well-being impacts.

The global urgency is undeniable. It is imperative governments and businesses consider these estimates and locally available data and use it to inform meaningful, child-focused action to reduce air pollution and protect children’s health.”

UNICEF further noted that the air pollution-linked death rate in children under the age of five in East, West, Central and Southern Africa is 100 times higher than what was obtainable in high-income countries.

The global children’s organisation also stated that air pollution is the second global risk factor for death in children under five years old.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution is the contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that changes the natural characteristics of the atmosphere and affects human health.

Air pollution deprives humans, the environment and other living things of access to clean air, which is fundamental to human health.

Common sources of air pollution are motor vehicles, household combustion materials, industrial facilities and forest fires.

UNICEF states that while malnutrition is the first global risk factor for deaths in children under the age of five, air pollution, water, sanitation and hygiene, high or low temperature and second-hand smoke, are the second, third, fourth and fifth causes of death.

WHO’s 2019 data on top causes of death per 100,000 population in Nigeria, lists neonatal conditions as the top cause of death in the country.

The SoGA report estimates the concentration of outdoor fine-particulate matter, PM2.5, with combined data from the air quality monitors in urban and rural areas, satellite observations, and global chemical transport models and combines it with the number of people living within that area and the PM2.5 concentration they are exposed to.

Nigeria’s exposure means to PM2.5 in 2019 was 51.7 and was 56.5 in 2020. A check of all the exposure means from 1990 to 2010 showed that 2015 had the highest exposure mean with 77.1 PM2.5. This implies that in 2015, Nigeria’s outdoor air pollution rate was high.

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