The World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday that over 30 percent of the global burden of diseases in children can be attributed to environmental factors and that 13 million deaths could be prevented annually by improving the environment. In addition, WHO said 4 million children die annually because of the bad quality of the air, water and exposure to chemicals and other factors.
WHO released this data from a report, the first ever report which highlights children's special susceptibility to harmful chemical exposures at different periods of their growth. According to WHO expert Jenny Pronczuc this new volume of the Environmental Health Criteria series, "Principles for Evaluating Health Risks in Children Associated with Exposure to Chemicals" is the most comprehensive work yet undertaken on the scientific principles to be considered in assessing health risks in children. Pronczuc said that the report highlights the fact that in children, the stage in their development when exposure occurs may be just as important as the magnitude of the exposure.
Children are especially vulnerable and respond differently from adults when exposed to environmental factors - and this response may differ according to the different periods of development they are going through.
Air and water contaminants, pesticides in food, lead in soil, as well many other environmental threats which alter the delicate organism of a growing child may cause or worsen disease and induce developmental problems. According to WHO, emerging evidence suggests that an increased risk of certain diseases in adults such as cancer and heart disease can result in part from exposures to certain environmental chemicals during childhood.