Why did we start measuring?
Gap measurement in the region
One-third of Latin American countries have no national air quality standards.
The region map of available air quality on-the-ground measurements at the time of assessment in 2020, shows a massive data gap in air quality measurement and a lack of regional air quality data focusing on early childhood.
Children are more vulnerable to air pollution than adults
- Children’s lungs and other organs are developing. That makes them very vulnerable. Babies and children breathe faster than adults and breathe 50% more air in proportion to their weight than adults. A typical adult takes between 12 and 18 breaths a minute; a 3-year old child takes 20 to 30 breaths a minute, and a newborn takes 30 to 40. They. (UNICEF)
- At very lower levels of exposure, air pollution is damaging children’s lung function. Those children that grew up in more polluted areas face the increased risk of having reduced lung growth, which may never recover to their full capacity. The average drop in lung function was similar to the impact of growing up in a home with parents who smoked (ALA)
- Air pollution affects neurodevelopment, leading to lower cognitive test outcomes, negatively affecting mental and motor development (WHO)
Air pollution affects far too many children
The 98 percent of children under the age of five are exposed to PM2.5 levels that exceed WHO air quality guidelines in low- and middle-income countries around the world. In comparison, 52 percent of children under the age of five in high-income nations are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO guidelines.
The percentage of children affected by air pollution may be higher now that the standards have been updated. There is no such thing as a “safe level” of pollution in the air.
630 million children under the age of five and 1.8 billion children under the age of fifteen are exposed to levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air that exceed WHO air quality guidelines.
130 million children in Latin America live where the levels of contamination exceed the maximum limits that protect their health (CODS, 2019)
About 600’000 deaths in children under 15 years of age were attributed to the joint effects of ambient and household air pollution in 2016.
In low- and middle-income countries, combined household air pollution from cooking and ambient (outdoor) air pollution cause more than half of acute lower respiratory infections in children under the age of five.
In the development of legislation and programs aimed at improving air quality, children are rendered invisible (FHC).
According to “The State of Global Air Quality Funding 2020,” there is a critical window of opportunity to address air pollution as a central component of the global recovery effort, thereby meeting many Sustainable Development Goals simultaneously:
- Reduced exposure to air pollution improves health (SDG 3).
- Addresses decarbonization (SDGs 7 and 13).
- Promotes job creation and sustainable economic development (SDG 8).
- Reduces inequalities (SDG 10).
- Partnership for the Goals (SGD 17)