Originally published on Green Living Ideas.
It’s not news that air pollution is one of the worst problems facing the planet, but a new report from UNICEF examines the toll this is having on our youngest residents. It’s not a pretty picture.
Mother Jones wrote about the UNICEF study and shared some of the data in a recent article. UNICEF found that about 2 billion children across the world are exposed to air pollution at levels the World Health Organization (WHO) considers ‘a long term hazard,’ while 300 million children “breathe air pollution at ‘toxic’ levels — or six times higher than international limits.”
UNICEF found that while urban children suffer air pollution from chemical, factory, and automobile exhaust/pollution, rural children also suffer from toxic air created from wood and agricultural waste is being burned (often) in the home.
And why is this such a big concern? Madison Pauly, the author of the MJ article writes,
“[Air pollution] puts kids at increased risk of pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and other health problems [because] their respiratory tracts are more permeable than those of adults, and they breathe twice as fast. Because their lungs and trachea are smaller, they’re more apt to develop blockages, while ongoing exposure to pollutants reduces their lung capacity. And children’s less-developed immune systems allow respiratory infections to take hold more easily, leading 500,000 children to die of pneumonia each year for reasons directly linked to the quality of their air. Some studies have even found that exposure to air pollution can impair physical and cognitive development.”
But the worst thing about this study, is that all of this air pollution is preventable! It could all change TOMORROW if globally, nationally, and locally we stood up to protect our most vulnerable citizens, and improve the likelihood of their successful future.
As Zachary Shahan, cleantech expert and Director of our network site CleanTechnica, explains so well in his article, ‘Why Kill?’ there is truly NO reason to continue with this evolution of pollution as is when we have safer, cleaner, and often more affordable alternatives.
Shahan explains that we can get to 100% renewable for electricity without killing people: bikes, transit, electric vehicles. He says we can, “legitimately stop killing people via pollution from exhaust pipes” (and I would add, smokestacks, cookstoves, and factory pollution). So why would we choose to kill?
But he also addressed the concern that someone has to lose in this transition to cleaner energy, and these are the powerful and political fossil fuel companies and their networks. So it’s in our hands to stand up to fossil fuel companies that are trying to block renewable projects, encourage our leaders and businesses to halt building of dangerous pipelines across sacred lands, and as consumers, support projects around the world that address the need for safer, cleaner, HEALTHIER technologies inside the home and out.
Reprinted with permission.
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