Maria Neira, Fiona Gore, Marie-Noel Brune and Jenny Pronczuk de Garbino of the Department of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization in Geneva, working with Tom Hudson of Boston University, highlight a recent WHO report that estimated that almost 1 in 4 illnesses has an environmental cause. Such high levels of disease kill more than 10 million children each year, which the team says is unacceptable.
They point out that environmental hazards are multiplying and becoming more visible because of environmental change, rapid population growth, overcrowding and uncontrolled pollution. Those environmental factors that have the greatest disease burden lead to diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections and malaria, as well as malnutrition, and poisonings.
It is crucial to recognize that children are more vulnerable than adults to environmental risks because they are generally constantly growing and more active and so breathe more air, consume more food and drink more water weight for weight than adults, the groups says.
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