Exposure to polluted environments is associated with more than one in four deaths among children younger than 5, according to two World Health Organization reports published Monday.
Worldwide, 1.7 million children’s deaths are attributable to environmental hazards, such as exposure to contaminated water, indoor and outdoor pollution, and other unsanitary conditions, the reports found.
Weaker immune systems make children’s health more vulnerable to harmful effects of polluted environments, the report says.
Some of the most common causes of death among children, such as malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia, can be prevented by implementing ways known to reduce environmental risks and exposure to these risks, the first report shows. About one-quarter of all children’s deaths and diseases in 2012 could have been prevented by reducing environmental risks.