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Polluted air killing half a million babies a year across globe

Air pollution last year caused the premature death of nearly half a million babies in their first month of life, with most of the infants being in the developing world, data shows.



a hand holding a baby: Photograph: Angela Hampton Picture Library/Alamy Stock Photo


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Angela Hampton Picture Library/Alamy Stock Photo

Exposure to airborne pollutants is harmful also for babies in the womb. It can cause a premature birth or low birth weight. Both of these factors are associated with higher infant mortality.

Nearly two-thirds of the 500,000 deaths of infants documented were associated with indoor air pollution, particularly arising from solid fuels such as charcoal, wood, and animal dung for cooking.

The discovery is reported in the State of Global Air 2020 report, which examined data on deaths around the world alongside a growing body of research that links air pollution with health problems.

Medical experts have warned for years of the impacts of dirty air on older people and on those with health conditions, but are only beginning to understand the deadly toll on babies in the womb.

Katherine Walker, principal scientist at the Health Effects Institute, which published the report, said: “We don’t totally understand what the mechanisms are at this stage, but there is something going on that is causing reductions in baby growth and ultimately birth weight. There is an epidemiological link, shown across multiple countries in multiple studies.”



a hand holding a baby: Premature baby. Exposure in the womb to air contaminants can cause pre-term births and low birth weight, experts say.


© Photograph: Angela Hampton Picture Library/Alamy Stock Photo
Premature baby. Exposure in the womb to air contaminants can cause pre-term births and low birth weight, experts say.

Babies born with a low birth weight are more susceptible to childhood infections and pneumonia. The lungs of pre-term babies can also not be fully developed.

“They are born into a high pollution environment, and are more susceptible than children who went to term,” said Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute in the US.

Beate Ritz, professor of epidemiology at UCLA, (University of California, Los Angeles), who was not involved with the study, said the indoor air pollution in cities across India, south-east Asia and Africa was comparable to that of Victorian London.

“This is not the air pollution we see in modern cities [in the rich world] but that which we had 150 years ago in London and other places, where there were coal fires indoors. Indoor air pollution has not been at the forefront for policymakers, but it should be,” Ritz said.

She pointed out that the harm to children went beyond the deaths; reducing air pollution would also lessen harm to survivors. “There is also damage to the brain and other organs from this pollution, so just surviving is not enough – we need to reduce air pollution because of the impact on all these organs too,” she said.

Some of these effects are likely to have existed, unnoticed, for centuries, as people have long cooked upon fires in enclosed spaces, an activity that causes particulate matter to be breathed in, particularly by women and children, who spend more time in

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Frozen Food Package Polluted by Living Coronavirus Could Cause Infection, China’s CDC Says | Top News

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s disease control authority said on Saturday that contact with frozen food packaging contaminated by living new coronavirus could cause infection.

The conclusion came as the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) detected and isolated living coronavirus on the outer packaging of frozen cod during efforts to trace the virus in an outbreak reported last week in the city of Qingdao, the agency said on its website.

The finding, a world first, suggests it is possible for the virus to be conveyed over long distances via frozen goods, it said.

Two dock workers in Qingdao who were initially diagnosed as asymptomatic infections in September brought the virus to a chest hospital during quarantine due to insufficient disinfection and protection, leading to another 12 infections linked to the hospital, authorities said last week.

However, the CDC’s latest statement does not show solid proof that the two workers in Qingdao caught the virus from the packaging directly, rather than contracting the virus from somewhere else and then contaminating the food packaging they handled, said Jin Dong-Yan, a virology professor at the University of Hong Kong.

The CDC said no instance had been found of any consumer contracting the virus by having contact with frozen food and the risk of this happening remained very low.

Nonetheless it advised that workers who handle, process and sell frozen products should avoid direct skin contact with products that could possibly be polluted.

Staff should not touch their mouth or nose before taking off work garments that could possibly be contaminated without washing their hands and should take tests regularly, the agency said.

Prior to the CDC’s latest findings genetic traces of the virus had been found in some samples taken from frozen food or food packaging, but the amount of virus was low and no living virus was isolated, the agency said.

Only living virus can infect people, while samples containing dead virus could also test positive for virus traces, Jin said.

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Tony Munroe; Editing by David Holmes)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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health

Frozen food package polluted by living coronavirus could cause infection, China’s CDC says

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s disease control authority said on Saturday that contact with frozen food packaging contaminated by living new coronavirus could cause infection.

The conclusion came as the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) detected and isolated living coronavirus on the outer packaging of frozen cod during efforts to trace the virus in an outbreak reported last week in the city of Qingdao, the agency said on its website.

The finding, a world first, suggests it is possible for the virus to be conveyed over long distances via frozen goods, it said.

Two dock workers in Qingdao who were initially diagnosed as asymptomatic infections in September brought the virus to a chest hospital during quarantine due to insufficient disinfection and protection, leading to another 12 infections linked to the hospital, authorities said last week.

However, the CDC’s latest statement does not show solid proof that the two workers in Qingdao caught the virus from the packaging directly, rather than contracting the virus from somewhere else and then contaminating the food packaging they handled, said Jin Dong-Yan, a virology professor at the University of Hong Kong.

The CDC said no instance had been found of any consumer contracting the virus by having contact with frozen food and the risk of this happening remained very low.

Nonetheless it advised that workers who handle, process and sell frozen products should avoid direct skin contact with products that could possibly be polluted.

Staff should not touch their mouth or nose before taking off work garments that could possibly be contaminated without washing their hands and should take tests regularly, the agency said.

Prior to the CDC’s latest findings genetic traces of the virus had been found in some samples taken from frozen food or food packaging, but the amount of virus was low and no living virus was isolated, the agency said.

Only living virus can infect people, while samples containing dead virus could also test positive for virus traces, Jin said.

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Tony Munroe; Editing by David Holmes)

Source Article

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