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:
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.
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.
- 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air but more countries are taking action
- Neuf personnes sur 10 respirent un air pollué dans le monde
- WHO Ambient Air Pollution City Database (Update 2018)
- Social media kit
- Infographics (English, Chinese, French, Russian)
- Read more about the updated database
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.
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.
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.
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 – 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.
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.
4.2 milliondeaths every year as a result of exposure to ambient (outdoor) air pollutionMortality from ambient air pollution – maps
3.8 million deaths every year as a result of household exposure to smoke from dirty cookstoves and fuelsMortality from household air pollution – maps
91%of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limitsInteractive global ambient air pollution map
Ambient air pollution
Household air pollution
News and events
The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year, says WHO
Health and environment ministers pledge climate actions to reduce 12.6 million environment-related deaths
WHO releases country estimates on air pollution exposure and health impact
Sixty-ninth World Health Assembly update
Air pollution levels rising in many of the world’s poorest cities
Maps and databases
Inheriting a sustainable world: Atlas on children’s health and the environment
Ambient air pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease
Health as the pulse of the new urban agenda
Burning Opportunity: Clean Household Energy for Health, Sustainable Development, and Wellbeing of Women and Children
Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks
- More publications
Air pollution infographics and videos
Global Platform on Air Quality and Health
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 in the official UN languages
#AirpollutionTweets about #airpollution from:@WHO
Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health (PHE)
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