Healthy Environments for Healthy Children: Key messages


Progress on child survival, health and well-being is under threat from the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change.

Children’s health is under grave threat, and they are the least responsible. More than 1 million premature deaths among children under the age of 5 are caused by pollution and toxic substances annually. Children are physically, socially and economically more vulnerable and less able to survive shocks from pollution, floods, droughts, severe weather and heatwaves. For example, children are uniquely more vulnerable because of their child-specific behaviours such as hand-to-mouth contact, breathing twice as fast as adults, often by mouth, and eating more per kilogram of weight, which exposes them to toxins in food, water, air and soil. Any deprivation caused by climate and environmental degradation at a young age can result in a lifetime of lost opportunity. This page provides key messages to support advocacy, investment and action towards a healthy environment for every child on the following topics: 

  • Lead exposure
  • Air pollution
  • E-waste
  • Children's right to a healthy environment