Pollution Kills Nearly 2 Million Children a Year

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. detrimental / ˌdɛ trəˈmɛn tl / (adj) – harmful

    Exposure to pollution is detrimental to one’s health.

  2. premature / ˌpri məˈtʃʊər, -ˈtʊər, -ˈtyʊər / (adj) – happening earlier than originally planned

    Using harsh chemicals on the skin can cause premature aging.

  3. inferior / ɪnˈfɪər i ər / (adj) – having a lower rank

    Poor nutrition can lead to inferior mental skills.

  4. deficit / ˈdɛf ə sɪt / (n) – a shortage

    Reading can prevent memory deficit.

  5. contract / kənˈtrækt / (v) – to get an illness

    He contracted the flu at school.


Read the text below.

Over 1.7 million children die yearly due to environmental pollution, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Although pollution is already dangerous, it is particularly detrimental to children as their organs and immune systems are still in the process of development. In 2012, around 570,000 children under five years old were reported to have died from respiratory infections, which are associated with air pollution, such as pneumonia. Diarrhea-related illnesses linked to contaminated water also caused the deaths of 361,000 children.

In addition, around 270,000 newborn babies died due to conditions such as premature birth, which is likely caused by the mother’s exposure to pollution and poor sanitation.

Other environmental hazards that threaten children’s health are chemicals, electronic waste, and climate change. Poisonous chemicals such as arsenic, fluoride, lead, and mercury tend to enter the food chain. As a result, children’s bodies absorb these chemicals. Improper disposal of electronic waste can also expose children to substances that could lead to inferior intelligence, attention deficit, lung damage, and cancer.

As increase in temperatures and carbon dioxide levels can trigger the growth of pollen, there is possibility of children contracting asthma.

According to WHO, measures such as having improved access to clean water, keeping pregnant women away from secondhand smoke, and avoiding activities that cause pollution can spare children from these health risks.

The WHO also stressed that every individual must take immediate action and adopt a long-term perspective to ensure good health for the coming generations.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that children’s health should be prioritized? Why or why not?
• What are other prevention methods for children’s diseases?

Discussion B

• Does the responsibility for reducing environmental pollution fall on everyone equally?
• What can you do to lessen pollution?