Air pollution and child health

06 November 2018

Article: 52/4405

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a report entitled ‘Air pollution and child health: prescribing clean air’. It examines the effects of both ambient (outside) and household air pollution on the health of the world’s children, particularly those in low and middle income countries. Therefore, it is important to note that much of the data reviewed relates to countries where levels of both indoor air pollution and outdoor air pollution are higher than the current ambient levels in Scotland or the UK. The report was launched on the eve of WHO’s first ever global conference on air pollution and health.

Key findings include:

  • air pollution affects neurodevelopment, leading to lower cognitive test outcomes, negatively affecting mental and motor development;
  • air pollution is damaging children’s lung function, even at lower levels of exposures;
  • more than 40% of the world’s population – which includes one billion children under the age of 15 - is exposed to high levels of household air pollution from mainly cooking with polluting technologies and fuels;
  • about 600,000 deaths in children under the age of 15 were attributed to the joint effects of ambient and household air pollution in 2016;
  • air pollution is one of the leading threats to child health, contributing to almost 10% deaths in children under five years of age.

The report is available on the World Health Organization (WHO) website

Source: WHO, 29 October 2018