In heartbreaking news, the World Health Organization is reporting that more than 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die every year from the effects of pollution, including second-hand smoke, dirty water, poor sanitation, inadequate hygiene and indoor and outdoor air pollution.
Released on Mar. 6, the report, “Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment,” analyzes how polluted environments are connected to the most common causes of death among children across the world (maladies include: diarrhea, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, malaria and pneumonia).
The report states pollution problems can begin in the womb but stresses that the health issues are preventable. Further, the report breaks down the numbers, reporting that 570,000 children under 5 die from respiratory illnesses and infections (pneumonia caused by air pollution and second-hand smoke), 361,000 die from diarrhea resulting from not having access to clean water and poor sanitation and hygiene, 270,000 die before they reach one month old, 200,000 deaths are caused by malaria and 200,000 children die from injuries related to hazardous environments, which includes poisonings, falls and drowning.
Countries with high rates of infant and toddler mortalities are almost exclusively poverty-stricken and either under- or- over-industrialized. One over-industrialized country of note is China, where environmental protections are still in their infantile stages. To compare, urban areas of child average 61.83 micrograms of air pollution – small enough to enter the bloodstream through the lungs – per cubic meter of air, while urban areas in the United States average 8.51 micrograms.
In the US, the growing concern comes from electronic waste from mobile phones and other devices that are not properly discarded. The chemicals released from electronic items are linked to lower IQs, attention deficits, lung damage and cancer and is expected to increase by 19 percent by 2018. Proper recycling is key to curbing the problem before it becomes an epidemic.
Read the full story here.