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All countries should see air pollution in Delhi as ‘wake-up call’ – UNICEF

All countries should see air pollution in Delhi as ‘wake-up call’ – UNICEF

India Blooms News Service | | 11 Nov 2016, 08:19 am
New York, Nov 11 (Just Earth News): Amid reports that air pollution in India’s capital, Delhi, has hit record highs over the past week, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on all countries to pay attention this emblematic case and take decisive actions to tackle the issue.

“With every breath, children in Delhi are suffering,” said UNICEF in a news release on Thursday, pointing to reports that air pollution in one of its neighbourhoods hit 999 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter (compared to an average of between 150-350 in January 2016).

“Delhi is a wake-up call to the world on air pollution. It is a wake-up call to all countries and cities where air pollution levels have resulted in death and illness amongst children,” it added, stressing: “Unless decisive actions are taken to reduce air pollution, the events we are witnessing in Delhi over the past week are likely to be increasingly common.”

According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), there is a close, quantitative relationship between exposure to high concentrations of small particulates (PM10 and PM2.5) and increased mortality or morbidity, both daily and over time. This type of pollution has health impacts even at very low concentrations and no threshold has been identified below which no damage to health is observed.

On the air pollution in Delhi, UNICEF said that an estimated 4.41 million children in the city missed three days of school, earlier this week, following a decision to close its 5,798 schools to minimize the risk for children to be exposed to the polluted air.

Air pollution challenge not unique to Delhi

It further said that this is not just challenge in Indian capital, numerous other cities in the country, such as Varanasi and Lucknow, as well as elsewhere in the world such as London, Beijing, Mexico City, Los Angeles and Manila have exceeded international guidelines – in some cases by considerable margin.

Recent analysis by the agency has shown that, globally, 300 million children live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution – exceeding six times international guidelines.

Highlighting that air pollution is a major contributing factor to some of the most deadly diseases children face, such as pneumonia, UNICEF cautioned that the pollution also affects their overall health. Almost a million children under the age of five die from pneumonia per year – and about half of those cases are directly linked with air pollution.

“Studies show it is linked with and can exacerbate asthma, bronchitis, airway inflammation, coughing and wheezing. Illness associated with air pollution can affect children’s ability to go to school,” the agency said, adding: “New research even points to the effects it can have on cognitive development amongst very young children.”

Those without access to medical treatment, who are often the poorest, and those who have pre-existing respiratory conditions, are most at risk.

Much can be done to improve the situation

Further in its release on Thursday, UNICEF said that stronger measures to cut back on the sources of air pollution.

“Air pollution moves across borders, both national ones as well as subnational ones, and so we will need coherent government policies to address these transboundary risks,” it noted.

Also, providing children with access to good quality healthcare is a major part of protecting them from air pollution, and treatment and prevention programmes for pneumonia, as well as other respiratory conditions, can significantly reduce the chance a child falls sick or dies.

UNICEF also called for better monitoring of air pollution at a global scale.

“When a child, a mother, a father or caregiver know how bad the air is on a real-time basis, they can begin to take actions to reduce exposure,” it stressed and urging pregnant mothers, and others who are at especially high risk to do their best to avoid areas where air pollution is at its highest.

Public knowledge on air pollution is a key first step to tackling it – it is key to supporting government policies to reduce it, the agency stressed.

COP22 is an important platform for action

Reminding that this week is also the first week of twenty-second Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), popularly known as COP 22, UNICEF said: “Actions that reduce air pollution can not only improve children’s health, but can also go a long way to also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“As such, the argument for reducing air pollution could not be clearer. And because we can – we must,” underscored the agency.

Photo: World Bank/Simone D. McCourtie

 

Source: www.justearthnews.com

 

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again; UNESCO regrets #HagiaSophia, #Turkey, #Istanbul, #HagiaSophiaMosqueAgain Istanbul/IBNS: Hagia Sophia, Turkey's iconic monument, a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the central attractions of its capital Istanbul, is no longer a museum. It has been turned back as a mosque though some 1500 years ago it was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral. Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman time in 1453 while under Ataturk it was turned into a museum in 1935. The decision comes amid a growing rise of the Islamists in Turkey who had been demanding that it be restored as a mosque though Opposition leaders with secular credentials had been against the move. A top court in Turkey ruled that turning it into a museum in 1935 by modern Turkey's secular architect Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was illegal, paving the way for present Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare it as a mosque again and to open it for Muslim prayers. Erdogan made the announcement an hour after the court ruled the conversion to museum in 1935 as illegal and scrapped its status. "May it be beneficial," posted Erdogan on Twitter, sharing an official document on the change with his signature. UNESCO regrets In an immediate reaction, UNESCO said it "deeply regrets" the decision. UNESCO said it was "regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog nor notification beforehand". "UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialog without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session," the United Nation's cultural body said in a statement. Istanbul icon of beauty and wonderment According to Turkey's official tourism website, Hagia Sophia is a remarkable achievement in the history of architecture. and a living proof of mankind's revolt against the laws of physics and it calls it a monument whose importance transcends borders. It is one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage sites attracting millions of visitors across the world with its majestic grandeur

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again 11 Jul 2020, 01:37 pm