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UNICEF: 300 million kids are breathing highly toxic air

"The impact is commensurately shocking," according to a report released Monday.


About 300 million children around the world are breathing "extremely toxic" air, according to a new report from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The 100-page report released Monday breaks down stats alongside World Health Organization standards, showing that 2 billion children altogether live in conditions with hazardous long-term health effects.

In an introductory letter, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake also explores the unique effects of low air quality on children. Children breathe more rapidly than adults and have less developed immune systems. The result is "commensurately shocking," Lake said. "Every year, nearly 600,000 children under the age of five die from diseases caused or exacerbated by the effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution."

The report offers updated numbers, but its broader message isn't new: air pollution, especially in developing and industrializing countries, is severely damaging the health and development of children.

UNICEF suggests various methods of helping children avoid pollution and the health problems that accompany it. While some solutions require government intervention and industry change, many simply boil down to better education and intention for parents.

How this new data will affect the industry of air purifiers and monitors remains to be seen, but the popularity of many personal air purification devices on crowdfunding sites seems to suggest growing awareness of the problem, at least among citizens of developed countries.