Air pollution killed 476,000 newborns in 2019, especially in India and sub-Saharan Africa, according to a study published in the United States that highlights the responsibility for toxic smoke emanating from the fuels used to cook in homes, 75% of cases. More than 116,000 Indian babies and 236,000 sub-Saharan Africans died in the first month of life, victims of air pollution, says the organization “State of Global Air 2020”, which uses data compiled by the Americans Health Effects Institute and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
The study authors say that there is increasing evidence to link mothers’ exposure to contamination during pregnancy with the increased risk of premature birth or that babies have a severe weight deficit. “Despite a slow and steady reduction in household dependency on poor quality fuels, the air pollution they generate remains a key factor in the death of babies,” said Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute.
In total, air contamination caused 6.7 million deaths worldwide in 2019, the fourth leading cause of mortality on the planet, the study indicates. The authors pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused more than one million deaths and economic damage, had a positive impact in terms of pollution. “Many countries have recovered the blue sky and the starry nights for the first time in many years”, due to the sudden brake of activities. But the positives should not last long, warned the authors.