(Yicai Global) Nov. 1 -- Air pollution has become the major cause of death for 600,000 children under five annually, and the United Nations has appealed to all the world's countries to meet international air quality standards set by the World Health Organization.
To this end, governments of each country shall cut down the consumption of fossil fuels and invest in increased efficiency projects and use renewable energy, the United International Nations Children's Fund said in its latest report Purify the Air for Children.
According to satellite images, about 2 billion children worldwide, or one child in seven, are living in areas where the air pollution is six times higher or more than international standards specified by the WHO.
Air pollution in these areas is mainly caused by the emission of motors, excessive consumption of fossil fuel, dust, and waste incineration. 620 million children in South Asia are living in areas where the outdoor air pollution is off the scale, giving it the dubious distinction of being ranked at the top of the most polluted regions.
Africa is ranked behind South Asia with 520 million children living in areas with air pollution that is too high to read. 450 million children in East Asia and the Pacific region are also living in such conditions.
"Pollutants not only harm children's developing lungs, but also cross their blood-brain barriers and permanently damage their developing brains, and, thus, their future. The impact of air pollution on society shall not be ignored." Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF said.
UNICEF also appeals to improve healthcare services for children and investment in comprehensive children healthcare services including immunization and treating more pneumonia patients. Pneumonia is one of the major causes of death for children under five.
Children shall be protected from being exposed to polluted air as much as possible, and sources of air pollution such as factories shall never be located near schools and places of recreation. Air pollution will be continuously monitored to advise countries to reduce levels of air-borne pollution to WHO guidelines.