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Urban air pollution risks to children

A global environmental health indicator

Millions of children living in the world’s largest cities, particularly in developing countries, are exposed to life-threatening air pollution two to eight times above the maximum World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Key Findings

Executive Summary

Millions of children living in the world’s largest cities, particularly in developing countries, are exposed to life-threatening air pollution two to eight times above the maximum World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Indeed, more than 80 percent of all deaths in developing countries attributable to air pollution-induced lung infections are among children under 5.

These are some of the findings of Urban air pollution risks to children: A global environmental health indicator. The authors developed an Environmental Health Indicator (EHI) to identify and rank cities with the most threatened children which reveals that some of the highest risks to children occur in cities in Mexico, India, China, Brazil, and Iran.

The authors also emphasize that interventions are needed for the developed world, where WHO has found that fine particulate pollution is responsible for 7 to 10 percent of respiratory infections in European children (21 percent in the most polluted cities). New York, Paris, Tokyo and Los Angeles have among the highest levels of traffic-based pollution in the world. Reducing fossil fuel use will have significant impacts on public health.

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