A new World Health Organization report that estimates one-quarter of young children's deaths are attributable to unhealthy environments includes data from around the world, but parts of the report hit home for Philadelphia.
The WHO report blames environmental factors, such as indoor pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene, for the deaths of 1.7 million children under 5.
Though children in Philadelphia don't face developing-world problems such as access to clean water and good sanitation, they certainly face numerous indoor and outdoor pollutants.
Marilyn Howarth, director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Core for the University of Pennsylvania's Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, says children in Philadelphia encounter a range of indoor and outdoor pollutants, from industry to vehicle exhaust through to mold.
The top causes of death for children in Philadelphia up to age 4 are birth and congenital defects, accidents, assault, and baterial infections.
Overall, for Philadelphia, there is good news: infant mortality has been dropping, low birth weights are holding steady or dropping slightly, new cases of elevated blood levels are dropping, and asthma rates hospitalization rates — influenced by pollution — peaked in 2011 and are dropping.