Children are almost as concerned about air pollution as Covid-19

Children across the world are almost as concerned about air pollution as they are Covid-19, according to a new survey conducted by Global Action Plan and Blueair as part of the ‘Freedom to breathe’ campaign. 

According to the survey, two-thirds (67%) of young people from China, India, the UK and the US are worried about how air pollution will affect their health. This is almost as much as they worry about the health impacts of Covid-19 at 72%.

In Britain, despite worry being less than the international average, children’s level of worry is relatively high at 42% for air pollution and 57% for Covid-19.

The survey also revealed that children in the UK have the lowest level of agreement that adults are doing enough to reduce air pollution at 24%, in comparison children in India reported a higher level of agreement at 71%.

In India, young people report significant impacts of poor air quality in their day-to-day lives with 32% saying that before the pandemic, air pollution stopped them from playing outside or running as fast as they would like to every day.

The average result (combining all four countries) shows that the children overwhelmingly believe they should have the right to be able to breathe clean air (94%).

In light of these findings, Global Action Plan and Blueair have today (June 1) launched the ‘Freedom to breathe’ campaign.

The campaign aims to empower young people globally to jointly call on the United Nations to acknowledge their fundamental right to clean air.

As part of the campaign, the two organisations have created a school programme to help educate children on the importance of breathing clean air. This is being delivered through local delivery partners in cities from each of the four surveyed countries which have some of the worst levels of recorded pollution

Sonja Graham, CEO at Global Action Plan, said: ‘It is astounding that clean air is not among the rights of children worldwide. Access to clean air is vital for children to be able to live long healthy lives and realise their full potential. Children have the right to clean water, a safe home, why do they not have a right to clean air to breathe?’

Sara Alsén, chief purpose officer at Blueair added: ‘For the last 25 years, Blueair has been fighting for every child’s right to breathe clean air. By teaming up with civil society actors who share our belief that it’s time to make access to clean air—like access to clean water—the right of every child, we are bringing our founder’s purpose to life.’



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Christopher Boocock
Christopher Boocock
3 years ago

“In Britain, despite worry being less than the international average, children’s level of worry is relatively high at 42% for air pollution and 57% for Covid-19.”
I hope that this material is included in the Freedom to Breathe material and that the children are told that air quality in the UK has actually never been better – it is not good for their well-being to be worried unnecessarily:
Source data:
Policy perspective:
“Air pollution and health in the UK, and the impact of policy measures over the last 50 years”
Dr Clare Heaviside

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