17 million babies breathing toxic air worldwide

Henrietta Brewer
December 7, 2017

There has been the linking between air pollution and respiratory diseases since forever, but UNICEF claimed in a report which claims that there is a growing body of scientific research stating that air pollution can damage a child's brain that too permanently.

There are 136 million children under the age of 1 globally, which means one in eight are being exposed to toxic air, the United Nations children's fund said.

The crisis saw large swathes of north India and parts of neighbouring Pakistan blanketed in acrid air - an annual phenomenon as cooler air traps particles near the ground, cause pollution levels to spike.

Across the globe, almost 17 million babies under the age of 1 live in areas where air pollution is at least six times higher than worldwide limits, causing them to breathe dangerously toxic air, according to a new report from UNICEF.


UNICEF claimed that all over the world, around seventeen million infants under the age of one are living in such highly polluted areas, out of which approximately 12.2 million of them live in South Asia.

Its report said there was a link to "verbal and non-verbal IQ and memory, reduced test scores, grade point averages among schoolchildren, as well as other neurological behavioural problems".

Finally, the paper says it's important to raise public awareness about the damaging effects of air pollution.

The air pollution level has been consistently 10 points above the safe zone.


The united Nations is calling on governments to intensify the fight against pollution as well as to strengthen the protection of children, including through the use of facial masks and filtration systems of the air. "As yet, we know the minimum - but not the maximum - extent of the harm".

The World Health Organization describes air pollution as a "major environmental risk to health".

"Protecting children from air pollution not only benefits children".

The author of the "Danger In The Air" report, Nicholas Rees, told AFP that toxic pollution is "impacting children's learning, their memories, linguistic and motor skills".


UNICEF urged more efforts to cut pollution, and also to reduce children's exposure to the poisonous smog which has frequently reached hazardous levels in Indian cities in recent weeks.

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