Parents, take note! Air pollution may permanently damage your kid's brain, says UNICEF

Not only do pollutants harm babies? developing lungs ? they can permanently damage their developing brains, said the report. Image via Getty. Photograph:( Others )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 06, 2017, 08.42 AM (IST)

The recently published UNICEF press release emphasises the debilitating effects of air pollution on human health. The official release opens by stating that "17 million babies under the age of 1 breathe toxic air, the majority -- 12 million -- live in South Asia". "UNICEF urges immediate action to reduce air pollution amid emerging evidence on how toxic air can affect brain development in young children," the release notes. The paper further explains how air pollution can harm kids exposing them to health hazards like cognitive impairment, brain-tissue damage among others. 

“Not only do pollutants harm babies’ developing lungs – they can permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.  “Protecting children from air pollution, not only benefits children. It also benefits their societies – realized in reduced health care costs, increased productivity and a safer, cleaner environment for everyone,” Lake added. 

South Asia is home to the largest number of babies -- 12.2 million -- living in the worst-affected areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds six times international limits set by the World Health Organization. The East Asia and Pacific region, on the other hand, has 4.3 million babies living in areas that exceed six times the standard pollution limit.

The UNICEF release highlighted the significance of clean air stating it as an equally important factor in a child's overall development as proper nutrition, "air pollution, like inadequate nutrition and stimulation, and exposure to violence is critical during the first 1,000 days of life, and can impact children’s early childhood development by affecting their growing brains," noted the release. 

With a series of reports emerging and establishing India's capital city as one of the highly polluted in the world, residents living here seem to get no respite from the worsening air quality. At the time of writing this story, air quality at various areas in the city swung between 'severe' and 'hazardous'.