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Sci Total Environ. 2019 Feb 10;650(Pt 2):2389-2394. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.09.375. Epub 2018 Oct 2.

Pollution and children's health.

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Department of Biology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA. Electronic address:
Pure Earth, 475 Riverside Drive, 860, New York, NY 10115, USA.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 111 T.W. Alexander Drive, Durham, NC 27709, USA.
Child Health Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, St. Lucia, 4072, Queensland, Australia.
Department of Biology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA.
University Hospital Munich, Institute and Outpatient Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health, Unit Global Environmental Health, Ziemssenstr. 1, D-80336 Munich, Germany; Institute of Public Health, Medical Decision Making and Health Technology Assessment, Department of Public Health, Health Services Research and Health Technology Assessment, UMIT (University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology), Hall i.T., Austria.



The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health found that pollution - air, water, soil, and chemical pollution - was responsible in 2016 for 940,000 deaths in children worldwide, two-thirds of them in children under the age of 5. Pollution is inequitably distributed, and the overwhelming majority of pollution-related deaths in children occurred in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Most were due to respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases caused by polluted air and water. Pollution is linked also to multiple non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in children including low birth weight, asthma, cancer and neurodevelopmental disorders, and these diseases are on the rise. The full impact of pollution, especially chemical pollution on the global burden of pediatric disease is not yet known, but almost certainly is undercounted because patterns of chemical exposure are not well charted and the potential toxicity of many chemical pollutants has not been characterized. The list of pediatric NCDs attributed to pollution will likely expand as the health effects of newer chemical pollutants are better defined and additional associations between pollution and disease are discovered.


Pollution prevention presents a major, largely unexploited opportunity to improve children's health and prevent NCDs, especially in LMICs. Failure to incorporate pollution prevention into NCD control programs is a major missed opportunity for disease prevention.


Children's environmental health;; Global health;; Non-communicable diseases;; Pollution;; Prevention

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