Air pollution is slowly easing in EU countries but still causes almost half a million early deaths each year, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said in its annual report published Monday, reports AFP.
"Air pollution is one of the leading risk factors for the national burden of disease in India", the report states, adding that researchers tracked more than 1,000 women in India throughout pregnancy and found a direct correlation between increased exposure to pollution and premature, underweight babies. "This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfill their full potential".
WHO Director for public health and environment.
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health's Prof Jonathan Grigg stated that invisible toxins from air pollution get in children's bodies through their lungs, hindering growth of lungs, adversely influencing other organs and causing asthma. It can also lead to asthma, childhood cancer, and a greater risk for chronic diseases later in life, says the World Health Organization report. New Delhi's air quality has been hovering between poor and very poor categories since the past week though it has not yet formally reached the severe levels.
It suggests one reason why children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution is because they breathe more rapidly than adults and therefore absorb more pollutants.
The PM2.5 (or particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres present in the air), also called "fine particulates", can be a matter of more serious health concern than PM10 (those with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres).
SAFAR data also showed that less stubble burning has taken place in the last two days as compared to last Thursday and Friday when highest pollution stubble burning took place since October 11.
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Dr. Maria Neira, WHO's director of environmental and social determinants of health, said of the pre-birth findings.
"Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives", WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
They found that a 10 μg/m3 increase in exposure to PM2.5 during pregnancy was associated with a decrease in birth weight of 4 g and a 2 per cent increase in the prevalence of low birth weight.
Air quality across Europe is slowly improving, but particulate pollution is linked to nearly half a million premature deaths across the European Union (EU).
More than 40 per cent of the world's entire population is exposed to harmful levels of air pollution. Residents celebrate by lighting lamps and bursting firecrackers, which have caused a sharp spike in pollution levels in previous years.
In addition, policies need to be implemented to decrease air pollution.
The current levels of atmospheric pollution in Europe still exceeds the norms approved by the European Union and the World Health Organization.