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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.