Air pollution levels still exceed healthy limits in Europe

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The effects are particularly pronounced for very young kids, with children under the age of five years accounting for about 1,00,000 of the total child deaths in India. Of these deaths, 4.03 lakhs were children under the age of five.

In India, the deaths of about 61,000 children below the age of five could be attributed to ambient levels of PM2.5, while another about 67,000 deaths were caused by household air pollution, due to the burning of fuels like kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting.

Particulate matter varies in size, i.e. the diameter or width of the particle. "Particles are also moved through the respiratory system faster, allowing them to reach the lungs, the alveoli and the bloodstream more rapidly", it said.

Expected outcomes include a strong commitment to decreasing air pollution by implementing policies and reforms, and making civic infrastructure such that children's exposure to polluted air is minimised.

Even pregnant women who are exposed to pollution tend to give birth to underdeveloped children who are medically more prone to such diseases. "But there are many straightforward ways to reduce emissions of unsafe pollutants", said Dr. Maria Neira, director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at the WHO. She explained that children exposed to these pollutants are at risk of respiratory ailments like asthma and also at risk of developing cancers and impaired intelligence. "You can still have a very good economic development without destroying the environment, without destroying the lungs and hearts of your people", Neira added. In comparison, in high-income countries, 52% of children under 5 are exposed to levels above World Health Organization air quality guidelines.

It also cites a study carried out in Tamil Nadu that showed maternal exposure to PM2.5 led to low birth weight in newborns.

ASSOCIATED PRESS School children hold banners take out march to express their distress on the alarming levels of pollution in the city, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Thick haze engulfed the capital that continued to grapple with deteriorating air quality.

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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 report called for further research in this area.

Air pollution may be to blame for up to 33 million emergency asthma attack visits to hospital every year, with half of the visits estimated to occur in South and East Asian countries, notably India and China, a global study has found.

Air pollution is slowly easing in EU countries but still causes almost half a million early deaths each year, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said in its annual report published Monday, reports AFP.

"Being administrative heads of Delhi's premier civic bodies, it is imperative upon you to step in to tackle air pollution".

While some of the cities like Patna and Varanasi have recently formulated action plans, there are none in place to issue advisories or mitigate the pollution at the source level instantly as in the case of the Graded Response Action Plan to combat air pollution.

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