The fight for fresh air
UNICEF response to the impact of air pollution on children’s health
Air pollution is a major environmental health risk for children, with lifelong and sometimes fatal consequences.
In 52 countries across Europe and Central Asia, more than 90 babies die every week from causes associated with air pollution.
Many more suffer long-term health problems as a result of breathing polluted air in infancy and childhood including asthma, chronic respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and diseases such as cancer. It can even lead to neurological disorders.
Intwined in damage to a children’s health and development, exposure to poor air quality in childhood can include lower school attendance, lower school performance, higher health care costs, lower income and decreased productivity.
Taking the lead
Across Europe and Central Asia, children are leading the way in the fight for clean air. With direct action, advocacy, training in STEM fields and developing practical skills, young people are mobilizing their efforts towards effective change.
Earlier this year the YouthMove4Air&Climate initiative launched supporting more than 250 young leaders who are passionate about environmental stewardship to order to raise awareness of air quality information and mobilize young people to take meaningful action towards addressing the urgent challenges of air quality and climate change.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
For Maja, recognising air pollution is a major issues that requires immediate action led her to become an advocate for change. When air pollution is extreme, Maja and her friends prefer to stay at home than be outdoors. She now shares experiences and actions with people about climate change and air pollution.
Young people in Kosovo* develop skills to combat outdoor air pollution.
Air pollution is an increasing health hazard, with domestic heating, road transport, energy production, and waste the main culprits.
The new initiative raises awareness of its harmful effects and empowers young people to develop innovative solutions in their communities.
Nigina and Saodat are confronting air pollution in their pursuit of eco-activism for a sustainable future by taking up environmental projects.
There were only 10 kids in the programme when Saodat started. But every year, their numbers have grown. Schoolchildren now pay attention to the guys in green T-shirts, who make their city cleaner and safer.
Young people meet with decision-makers to discuss urgent actions to mitigate climate change.
100 children and youth from all the regions of Uzbekistan participated underlining that climate and environmental hazards are having devastating impacts on the well-being and future of children.
Everyday actions to engage with climate change and air pollution
Minimize your exposure to indoor pollutants by trying these tips for fresh air at home: 7 ways to improve the quality of air at home.
Talking about climate change with children can be difficult for many parents. Engaging with children with hope and positivity on these issues makes an impact as you talk to your child about climate change.
“Green” parenting tips can help parents raise their 0 to 16-year-old children in an environmentally friendly way.