Two billion children worldwide breathe toxic air, Unicef says

A new report from Unicef says about a third of the two billion children in the world who breath in toxic air live in northern India and neighbouring countries. This risks serious health effects including damage to their lungs, brains and other organs. Of the global total, 300 million children are exposed to pollution levels more than six times higher than standards set by the World Health Organisation, including 220 million in South Asia. For the Indian capital, the alarming numbers are hardly a surprise.

The impact is commensurately shocking.

Unicef executive director Anthony Lake

Millions more suffer from respiratory diseases that diminish their resilience and affect their physical and cognitive development. The two billion children breathing unhealthy air is from a total of the 2.26-billion world population of children, meaning the vast majority are being exposed to levels of pollution considered by the WHO to be unsafe. Some 520 million children are breathing toxic air in Africa, and 450 million in East Asia, mainly China, according to the report.