A shocking study has found that over nine in ten children across the world live in places that suffer with toxic air.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that 93 per cent of all children live in environments with air pollution levels above its guidelines, which could be devastating to their long term health.
The crisis is damaging children in both rich and poor countries – from low birth weight to poor neurodevelopment, asthma to heart disease. Almost every field of health has some evidence of damage, according to WHO medical experts.
In low income countries almost all (98 per cent) children under five are exposed to levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) higher than WHO recommended limits.
WHO said air pollution has a “vast and terrible impact on child health and survival”.
“Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general.
“This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfil their full potential.”
Dr Maria Neira, director of WHO’s department of public health, environmental and social determinants of health, said: “Air pollution is stunting our children’s brains, affecting their health in more ways than we suspected.
“But there are many straightforward ways to reduce emissions of dangerous pollutants.”