Toxic Air: The “New Tobacco,” Inescapable for Billions

A staggering 93% of the world’s children under 15—1.8 billion—breathe air so polluted that their health and development are jeopardized.
 
In 2016, 600,000 died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by toxic, polluted air, according to the WHO. And a new report takes a closer look at the toll of ambient and indoor pollution on children’s health—with a special focus on children living in low-and middle-income countries. Launched on the eve of WHO’s first global conference on air pollution and health, the report details why these children are especially vulnerable and outlines policies that would reduce emissions.
 
“Despite this epidemic of needless, preventable deaths and disability, a smog of complacency pervades the planet,” wrote WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a commentary penned for The Guardian. Calling this toxic air, breathed by billions every day, the “new tobacco,” he urged global leaders to commit to dramatic steps to curb pollution ahead of the conference, set to begin in Geneva tomorrow.

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