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Nearly one-third of children exposed to indoor air pollution: ministry
October 13,2016   By:ECNS
Chinese children are facing both traditional and new types of health risks, with nearly one-third threatened by potential hazards from indoor air pollution, said a recent study released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
 
According to its findings, 26.8 percent of children are exposed to indoor air pollution attributable to solid fuels used for cooking or heating, 12.7 percent have no properly treated drinking water, 13.6 percent live in places where there are petroleum, petrochemical, coking and other highly polluting enterprises within a radius of one kilometer, and 14.6 percent live in places where there are major highways within 50 meters.
 
The study marked China's first large-scale research on patterns of population exposure to the environment, a first of its kind for any developing country.
 
Cheng Hongguang, a professor at Beijing Normal University, explained that traditional risks result from exposure to environmental pollution due to low economic levels and poor infrastructure, while new types of hazards refer to those brought by pollution in the process of industrialization and urbanization.
 
"The impact of environmental pollution on health is not only related to pollutant density and toxicity, but also patterns of exposure to the environment," said Zou Shoumin, a ministry official.
 
According to Zou, exposure patterns cover four major aspects: One, physiological features like height, weight and respiratory volume. Two, the length, frequency, channels and means of contacting pollutants borne by air, water and other environmental media. Three, pollution source distribution in the living environment. And last, preventative measures taken to counteract potential health risks from exposure.
 
The study also found that patterns of exposure to the environment among Chinese children show differences according to their age, gender and the place where they live.
 
Children under three years are increasingly exposed to outdoor air pollution with the increase of age, but the trend is reversed after they go to school.
 
While boys are exposed to outdoor air pollution more than girls of the same age group, urban children see less exposure than their rural counterparts.
 
Also, children are less exposed to pollution and given more preventative protection if their parents or caretakers are better-off and more educated.
 
The study gives suggestions on preventative measures to protect children, including stepping up monitoring of children's living environments, optimizing environmental planning, and pushing ahead with efforts in developing clean energy in rural areas and providing safe drinking water.