Air pollution

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WHO Expert Consultation: Risk communication and intervention to reduce exposure and to minimize the health effects of air pollution

The two-day consultation took place on
12–14 February 2019 at WHO headquarters in Geneva. It included presentations on the current review of evidence, methods and applications, and will include significant time for discussion, identification of data gaps, research needs, and the next steps to derive expert suggestions in a consistent and harmonized approach, while providing elements of guidance in the form of specific and practical advice.

Air pollution and health

Air pollution kills an estimated 7 million people worldwide every year. WHO data shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. WHO is working with countries to monitor air pollution and improve air quality. For more information:

A schoolboy walks through smoke and fumes emitted from a waste dump in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt

The First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health took place from 30 October to 1 November 2018 in Geneva

Remote participation was facilitated by webcasting and live-streaming of the sessions and is available on the conference website.

The programme (linked below) provides an overview of the sessions and topics covered during the conference.

The Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, 30 October–1 November 2018 was organized at WHO headquarters in Geneva, in collaboration with UN Environment, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and The World Bank.

A schoolboy walks through smoke and fumes emitted from a waste dump in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt (photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Urban pollution, Manila, Philippines

News release: 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air

2 May 2018, Geneva – Air pollution levels remain at dangerously high levels in many parts of the world. New data reveals that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. like black carbon which penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system.
WHO estimates that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air that lead to diseases such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections, including pneumonia.

WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

Invisible killer

Air pollution is an invisible killer that lurks all around us, preying on the young and old. Learn how it slips unnoticed past our body's defenses causing deaths from heart attack, strokes, lung disease and cancer.

24% of all stroke deaths are attributable to air pollution. Air pollution causes 1.4 million deaths from stroke every year.

Brain and air pollution

24% of all stroke deaths are attributable to air pollution. Air pollution causes 1.4 million deaths from stroke every year.

25% of all heart disease deaths are attributable to air pollution. Air pollution causes 2.4 million deaths due to heart disease every year.

Heart and air pollution

25% of all heart disease deaths are attributable to air pollution. Air pollution causes 2.4 million deaths due to heart disease every year.

43% of all lung disease and lung cancer deaths are attributable to air pollution. Air pollution causes 1.8 million deaths due to lung disease and cancer every year.

Lungs and air pollution

43% of all lung disease and lung cancer deaths are attributable to air pollution. Air pollution causes 1.8 million deaths due to lung disease and cancer every year.

Air Pollution is an invisible killer causing 29% of all deaths from lung cancer; 24% of all deaths from stroke; 25% of all deaths from heart disease; 43% of all deaths from lung disease

Air pollution – a leading cause of NCD deaths

Most air pollution-related deaths are from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). In terms of global disease burden, air pollution is the cause of over one-third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer, and chronic respiratory disease, and one-quarter of deaths from ischaemic heart disease.

More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO guideline limits, with low-and middle income countries suffering from the highest exposures, both indoors and outdoors.

Air pollution and health

From smog hanging over cities to smoke inside the home, air pollution poses a major threat to health and climate. The combined effects of ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution cause about 7 million premature deaths every year, largely as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections.

More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO guideline limits, with low-and middle income countries suffering from the highest exposures, both indoors and outdoors.

WHO's Agenda on Air Pollution and Health

WHO's work on air pollution is guided by a 2015 World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution calling for an enhanced global response to the adverse health effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution. In 2016, Member States approved a draft "road map" focusing on four priority areas for action:

1) Expanding the knowledge base about impacts of air pollution on health

2) Monitoring and reporting on health trends and progress towards the air pollution-related targets of the SDGs

3) Leveraging the health sector to raise awareness of health benefits from air pollution reduction measures, and

4) Enhancing the health sector’s capacity to work with other sectors and at all levels to help address the adverse health effects of air pollution through training, guidelines and national action plans.

WHO/L. Cipriani

fact buffet

4.2 milliondeaths every year as a result of exposure to ambient (outdoor) air pollution

Mortality from ambient air pollution – maps

3.8 million deaths every year as a result of household exposure to smoke from dirty cookstoves and fuels

Mortality from household air pollution – maps

91%of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits

Interactive global ambient air pollution map

Campaigns

BreatheLife is a joint campaign led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to mobilize cities and individuals to protect our health and planet from the effects of air pollution.


News and events

EDD 2019

WHO is fully committed to working with health, energy, gender and other communities to reduce inequalities stemming from the lack of access to clean energy in the home and health care facilities.

•   Brainstorming Lab during European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels, Tuesday 18 June from 13:30 to 14:45, on enhancing collaboration between the energy and health sectors to reduce health and social inequities in sub-Saharan Africa.


More people have access to electricity than ever before, but world is falling short of sustainable energy goals

Two women working on a solar power panels land
Shutterstock

Webinar: Expert Consultation on defining clean, transitional and polluting household energy solutions based on carbon monoxide emissions 15 January 2019


Global Platform on Air Quality and Health

Severe air pollution in Anyang, China
V.T. Polywoda/Fickr

The Global Platform on Air Quality and Health is a WHO-led initiative, in collaboration with nearly 50 other international/regional agencies and research institutions.


BreatheLife infographics
 

BreatheLife infographics in the official UN languages

#Airpollution

Contact

Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health (PHE) World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Switzerland
Email:
ambientair@who.int
householdenergy@who.int
urbanhealth@who.int

Air pollution in WHO regions

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