City Children Face Grave Dangers From Air Pollution
By Marwaan Macan-Markar
MEXICO CITY, Mexico, September 26, 1999 (IPS) - A leading Mexican environmentalist is urging authorities in the world's largest cities to take urgent action to protect millions of children exposed to life-threatening air pollution.
New and mounting evidence of the peculiar threats to children should prompt those in power to develop a political strategy to tackle the things that contribute to this city`s toxic level, says Professor Jose Luis Lezama, a senior researcher in environmental policy at the College of Mexico.
Here, as in many other mega-cities, large numbers of children fall ill as a direct consequence of the pollutants emitted by lead levels of the vehicles that ply through the city. Mexico is the most contaminated city, even worse than Santiago and Sao Paolo, he adds. There are periods here when children are kept indoors in their schools when the pollution level soars to a dangerous level.
Lezama's comments came in response to the release here Thursday of a new report by the Washington-based World sources Institute (WRI).
Titled Urban Air Pollution Risks to Children: A Global Environmental Health Indicator, the Report states that Millions of children growing up in the world`s largest cities, particularly those living in developing countries, are increasingly under severe threats of exposure to preventable life-threatening air pollution.
Children living in such cities end up inhaling polluted air that is ôtwo to eight times above the maximum World Health Organization (WHO) exposure guidelines, it states.
More than 80 percent of all deaths in developing countries attributable to air pollution-induced lung infections occur among children under five years of age.
The findings in this report have been based on an Environmental Health Indicator (EHI), which, the authors say, was helpful to rank the 18 mega-cities in the developing world.
Information, though, was gathered from 207 cities and metropolitan regions in 53 countries, where records had been maintained between 1993 and 1995 to measure the annual levels of three air pollutants physical, chemical and biological.
Two of the authors Dr Devra Davis and Dr Paulo Saldiva say the indicator reflected a need to concentrate on standardising monitoring and data collection methods since regional and international efforts to control air pollution are of increasing importance as pollution does not discriminate between nations.
Among the report's findings were the following:
The Bank said that in Delhi, the incidence of bronchial asthma in the 5-6 age group is 10-12 percent, and air pollution is one of the major causes have been tried.