93 percent of the world's children breathe toxic, polluted air each day

Ed Miliband with his wife Justine Thornton and their children Daniel and Samuel in 2015

Air pollution is "the new smoke", the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Antan Gebrreyes stresses in the organization's isotope from today to Thursday in Geneva the first World Conference on "Air Pollution and health".

The report compiles evidence on a host of impacts including poor birth outcomes, infant mortality, adverse effects on neurodevelopment, weight issues, respiratory effects and cancers, concluding that air pollution impacts children in 'uniquely damaging ways'. "In comparison, in high-income countries, 52% of children under 5 are exposed to levels above World Health Organization air quality guidelines", the study says. Moreover, children who are exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at higher risk of developing chronic diseases later in life - ultimately hampering their quality of life. Children have been found to be more vulnerable to the ill-effects of air pollution as they breathe more rapidly than adults, thus absorbing more pollutants, the report stated.

Youngsters are also more exposed to pollutants that stay closer to the ground at a time when their bodies and brains are still developing, the United Nations agency report continues, adding that newborns and young children are more susceptible to household air pollution in homes that use polluting fuels for cooking, heating and lighting.

More than 40% of the world's population - which includes for 1 billion children under 15 - is exposed to high levels of household air pollution from mainly cooking with polluting technologies and fuels.

The household pollution produced by the use of cooking oil, heating and lighting are severely injurious for newborn children.

"The moral and practical case for urgent, bold and far-reaching action to reduce emissions, including calling an end to the fossil fuel era, is now utterly irrefutable", he said. The WHO reports found that nine out of 10 people are breathing polluted air which is causing pre-mature deaths each year. They said the US had a low level of air pollution relative to other countries, attributing the progress to the Clean Air Act, but cautioned that actions to roll back progress could worsen health.

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The WHO reports said large parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America are among the worst affected. The following study took data from around 194 countries dealing with toxic air problems where India topped the list as it witnessed the deaths of at least 1 lakh children who were below the age of five.

"We are preparing the ground for low-emission power generation, cleaner, safer industrial technologies and better municipal waste management". And for that we need solutions and those solutions are there, we need to call.

The EPCA also urged people to not use private diesel vehicles in this period, as this will add to the pollution burden.

The report lists road transport, energy production, agriculture, industry and households as the main sources of air pollution.

However, WHO said that it was working with partners to develop ways to support countries in addressing the problem of air pollution. Among these, 5,43,000 death are of children below the age of fie and 52,000 deaths in children aged between 5-15.

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