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Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health's Prof Jonathan Grigg stated that invisible toxins from air pollution get in children's bodies through their lungs, hindering growth of lungs, adversely influencing other organs and causing asthma.

Air pollution is the main cause of premature death in 41 European nations and remains "too high", the EEA said. Another 7,234 children between the age of 5 and 14 years had also died due to diseases caused by air pollution in that year.

During Diwali past year, Delhi's air quality index reached 604 - more than 24 times higher than the level the World Health Organization deems safe.

"Air pollution is stunting our children's brains, affecting their health in more ways than we suspected", warned Maria Neira, the head of the WHO's department of public health and environment.

PM2.5 poses greater harm as being finer, it can easily be inhaled into the respiratory tract.

It is very unfortunate that the Delhi government only remains a "mute spectator" to this "serious health hazard" Delhi is facing, he alleged, adding that in the last four years, the AAP dispensation has "failed" to take any effective measure to curb air pollution.

Air conditions are deteriorating quickly in the country's capital; 29 monitoring stations in the city on Monday recorded "very poor" air quality while four stations recorded air quality as "severe".

UKHACC says that air pollution causes about 40,000 deaths in the United Kingdom every year and costs about £22bn to the economy annually.

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"This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfil their full potential", the official said. For pregnant women, it increases the chances of giving birth to babies who are smaller than what is normal for a given duration of gestation, research quoted in the report found.

A study from Tamil Nadu cited in the document showed that for every 10 μg/m3 (microgram per cubic metre) increase in exposure to PM2.5 during pregnancy, there was a related decrease in birth weight of 4g and a heightened risk of 2% in low birth weight prevalence.

WHO Director for public health and environment.

The findings indicate that maternal exposure to PM2.5 should be considered with other risk factors for low birthweight in India. Of these deaths, 4.03 lakhs were children under the age of five.

The current levels of atmospheric pollution in Europe still exceeds the norms approved by the European Union and the World Health Organization.

The authors say that children are at greater risk than adults from the many adverse health effects of air pollution because their lungs, organs and brains are still maturing. Cooking fuels such as wood, coal or dung cause household air pollution.

The mayors of Paris and Brussels recently called for Europe to hold an annual car-free day in a bid to ease air pollution, having held a vehicle-free day in their own cities in September.