Participants run during a half marathon organised by Indian National Security Guard (NSG) on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India, November 18, 2018 - Image used for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Reuters

Air pollution, both outside and inside home, is a silent and invisible prolific killer responsible for premature death of 7 million people each year, including 600,000 children, according to a UN expert on environment and human rights.

According to David R. Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur, more than 6 billion people, one-third of them children, are regularly inhaling air so polluted that it puts their life, health and well-being at risk.

"Every hour, 800 people are dying, many after years of suffering, from cancer, respiratory illnesses or heart disease directly caused by breathing polluted air. Yet, this pandemic receives inadequate attention as these deaths are not as dramatic as those caused by other disasters or epidemics," Boyd said during the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

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Boyd emphasised that air pollution is a preventable problem and gave a call to abide by their legal obligations to ensure clean air, which is essential for fulfilling the rights to life, health, water and sanitation, adequate housing, and a healthy environment.

"There are many examples of good practices, such as programmes in India and Indonesia, that have helped millions of poor families switch to cleaner cooking technologies that are successfully eliminating the use of coal-fired power plants," said Boyd.