Environmental problems kill some 4 million kids a year, WHO says

Gloom and doom alert: About 4 million kids younger than age 5 die every year due to environmental problems including air pollution, water pollution, and chemical exposure, according to a new report from the World Health Organization. In fact, more than 30 percent of illness and death in kids due to disease can be attributed to environmental factors, the researchers say. The report found that the developmental stage of life a child is at when exposed to an environmental hazard could be just as important as the level of exposure in determining what happens to them. “Children are not just small adults,” said WHO researcher Terri Damstra. “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.” The report also confirmed the disproportionate effects environmental hazards have on poor and malnourished children, who are often exposed to the worst hazards and are least equipped to deal with them.