According to a report from the WHO (World Health Organization), in India more children die as a result of exposure to INDOOR air pollution than they do from pollution outside. In 2016, 66,800 children under five died as a result of indoor pollution in India, 10% more than deaths associated with outdoor pollution.
Around the world more than 3 billion people still depend on polluting fuels, such as wood, coal, dung and kerosene to heat their homes and cook. Often women and children are most at risk, as they tend to spend more time in the home, close to the fire.
In India the problem is particularly urgent. More than half the population use solid fuels for cooking, as a result, many children are living in terribly polluted environments.
Young children are particularly vulnerable. Their lungs, organs and brains are still not fully developed. And children breathe faster than adults, so they take in more air. Together, these factors significantly increase their risk. After premature birth, acute respiratory infection caused by exposure to air pollution is the number one killer of children under 5 in India.
Despite the high death rate, it seems nothing is being done at government level to address India’s pollution crisis. Air pollution levels will rise to ‘severe’ and ‘hazardous’ this week and unlike China, where facemasks are a common sight, Indians do little to protect themselves from outdoor pollution. Furthermore many rich and middle class Indian families do not own an air purifier. With little or no pressure put on political parties to make the changes necessary to reduce pollution levels, a cleaner, pollution free India looks bleak.
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