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New Report Finds 600,000 Child Deaths Per Year Attributed to Air Pollution

New Report Finds 600,000 Child Deaths Per Year Attributed to Air Pollution

(October 31, 2016) - Chicago, IL

Statement of Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, in response to today’s release of a UNICEF report entitled “Clear the air for children: The impact of air pollution on children”:

A new report from UNICEF finds that approximately two billion children worldwide currently live in areas with unhealthy air that exceed the annual limit for particle pollution set by the World Health Organization. Around 600,000 children under age five die every year from diseases caused by or exacerbated by outdoor and indoor air pollution. Air pollution is an urgent health threat to the world’s children.

“Children are particularly vulnerable to the harms of air pollution, as their lungs and bodies are still growing and developing. Exposure to air pollution in childhood may result in lifelong health issues that affect them throughout adulthood. Before they are born, pollution may cause them to weigh less than they should at birth. Through their childhood, pollution can limit their lungs developing to full capacity, increasing their risk of disease their entire lives. Other harms of air pollution include frequent respiratory infections, asthma impairments, harm to nervous system and brain, harm to the cardiovascular system and lung cancer.

“The report by UNICEF also found poor children are among the most at risk. The United States and other nations must do more to ensure everyone deserves a chance to live a healthy life, especially those whose circumstances have made them vulnerable to poor health. Of those deaths from illnesses associated with air pollution, 88 percent of deaths from outdoor air pollution and 99 percent of deaths from indoor air pollution occur in low- and middle-income countries. More must be done to combat indoor air pollution from cooking with biomass fuel and tobacco smoke in addition to addressing power plants, vehicles and industrial sources of outdoor air pollution.

 “The American Lung Association joins UNICEF in calling on world leaders to reduce and improve monitoring of air pollution, and increase access to health care, including more immunization programs.

“The United States remains a substantial contributor to outdoor air pollution and to climate change, which will make the air pollution problem worse. To address both of these issues, the American Lung Association supports full implementation of the Clean Power Plan in the United States, the first-ever federal plan to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants, which is estimated to prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths by 2030. We urge all states to move forward and cut carbon pollution from power plants, which would reduce both air pollution and slow our contributions to climate change.

“When the world gathers next month in Marrakesh, Morocco for COP 22, this powerful report from UNICEF will remind them of the stakes. The American Lung Association urges the leaders of every nation to protect the health of the world’s children from air pollution.” 

Learn more about air pollution and lung health at and read the “State of the Air” report at For media interested in speaking with an expert about healthy air, contact Allison MacMunn at the American Lung Association at or 312-801-7628.


About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:


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