Children are exposed to serious health risks from environmental hazards. Over 40 percent of the global burden of disease attributed to environmental factors falls on children below five years of age, who account for only about 10 percent of the world’s population.
Environmental risk factors often act in concert, and their effects are exacerbated by adverse social and economic conditions, particularly conflict, poverty and malnutrition. Timely action needs to be taken to allow them to grow up and develop in good health, and to contribute to economic and social development.
Polluted indoor and outdoor air, contaminated water, lack of adequate sanitation, toxic hazards, disease vectors, ultraviolet radiation and degraded ecosystems are all important environmental risk factors for children and in most cases for their mothers as well.
Particularly in developing countries like Bangladesh, environmental hazards and pollution are a major contributor to childhood deaths, illnesses and disability from acute respiratory disease, diarrhoeal diseases, physical injuries, poisonings, insect-borne diseases and perinatal infections.
Childhood death and illness from causes such as poverty and malnutrition are also associated with unsustainable patterns of development and degraded urban or rural environments.
Major environment-related killers in children under five years of age