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Toxic air is harming our children with every breath that they take


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All day, every day, even while they sleep, tens of millions of children in South Asia are being seriously harmed by toxic air.South Asia is leading the world in this respect—and not in a good way. Here, air pollution now kills an estimated 130,000 children under five every single year. It is a staggering fact that twelve million babies in South Asia are breathing air that is six times more polluted than the international limits set by the World Health Organization. This means that South Asia has three-quarters of the global total.

The full impact of breathing harmful air is not visible to the naked eye, but the Air Quality Index measures how toxic the air is. A measurement of 0-50 is “good”, 50-100 is “moderate”, 100-150 is “unhealthy for sensitive groups” (including children), 151-200 is “unhealthy”, 201-300 is “very unhealthy”, and 301-500 is “hazardous”.

In the four-day period between January 8 and 11, the number reached 417 in New Delhi (hazardous), 310 in Kathmandu (hazardous), 328 in Dhaka (hazardous), 510 in Kabul (hazardous), and 234 in Karachi (very unhealthy). These large numbers mean deaths; and they mean serious, lasting harm.

A cough, sore throat or sore eyes are the common things that we notice. But the real damage is far more serious. The most dangerous air pollutants of all are the smallest particles. They reach deep down into the lungs. From the lungs they pass into the bloodstream. In the bloodstream, they circulate around the body. Air pollution is a severe and growing threat to people of all ages—but it is particularly bad for children's health and development. There are three main reasons why children are particularly at risk:

First, children breathe faster than adults. A typical adult takes between 12 and 18 breaths a minute. A 3-year-old child takes 20 to 30 breaths a minute, and a newborn takes 30 to 40. So young children are breathing in the polluted air 2-3 times as much as adults are.

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Posted by on Feb 2 2019. Filed under Bangladesh Exclusive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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