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Children’s Environmental Health in the Twenty-First Century

Author(s): Pronczuka J, Surdub S



In the twenty-first century, the global burden of disease trends are the result of complex interaction among rapid industrialization and urbanization, unsustainable use of natural resources, and population growth. In addition, global environmental changes due to climate change, ozone depletion, desertification/deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and increased used of some biotechnologies are having an important impact on human health. Many other factors also play an important role in the population's health response to global environmental threats, including poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation, and infectious diseases. Worldwide, the burden of environmental disease is much higher for children than adults, especially in young children under 5 years of age. Quantification of the burden of diseases attributable to environment shows that environmental risk factors can contribute to more than one-third of the disease burden in children, a fraction of disease that could be prevented. Children are often exposed to multiple environmental threats combined with other behavioral, social, and economic risk factors. Many of the environmental health risk factors are shared among children's home, school, and community. Therefore, an integrated approach should be considered in order to create healthy environments for children. The promotion of safe environments for children has to involve decision makers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), families, and various sectors including health, education, housing, environment, agriculture, industry, transport, and energy. Multiple initiatives have been proposed from collection, evaluation, and dissemination of information on children's health and the potential environmental threats to research, monitoring, risk assessment, and policies to improve the environmental conditions and ultimately children's growth and development.

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