Toxic Air Puts Lives of 8 Million Kids in India at Risk: UNICEF

The report from UNICEF comes at a time when Delhi combats its worst pollution crisis in years.

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Around 12 million infants in India are at risk of brain damage from the toxic smog they breathe.
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Air pollution can affect the brain development of more than 12 million infants in South Asia, including India, a UNICEF report said on Wednesday, 6 December.

The report comes at a time when Delhi and north Indian states are grappling with severe air pollution crisis.

United Nations International Children's Education Fund India’s chief of Communication Alexandra Westerbeek said that the crisis of air pollution affects millions of Indian children.

Around 12.2 million children under one year of age are prone to “affected brain development” due to air pollution in South-Asia, the report said.

The paper ‘Danger in the Air: How air pollution can affect brain development in young children’ noted that particulate air pollution can damage brain tissues and undermine cognitive development.

As many as 10 Indian cities figured in the 20 most polluted cities across the world leaving over eight million children in the country exposed to toxic air and potentially putting their brain development at risk, said Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India.

Even if a pregnant woman inhales toxic air, it might have an impact on her baby, she added.

Haque said there was hope, citing the global momentum on climate change, but added the bigger hope comes from children themselves.

In India, we have seen children are raising their voices, educating others. As future citizens of the country, they are raising the issues they are concerned about. That is very important.
Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India

Haque said government regulations would work but the more important aspect was involvement of all stakeholders such as agriculture groups and industries.

(With inputs from IANS and PTI.)

(Breathe In, Breathe Out: Are you finding it tough to breathe polluted air? Join hands with FIT in partnership with #MyRightToBreathe to find a solution to pollution. Send in your suggestions to fit@thequint.com or WhatsApp @ +919999008335)

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