Climate change, air quality, and human health

Am J Prev Med. 2008 Nov;35(5):459-67. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.025.


Weather and climate play important roles in determining patterns of air quality over multiple scales in time and space, owing to the fact that emissions, transport, dilution, chemical transformation, and eventual deposition of air pollutants all can be influenced by meteorologic variables such as temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and mixing height. There is growing recognition that development of optimal control strategies for key pollutants like ozone and fine particles now requires assessment of potential future climate conditions and their influence on the attainment of air quality objectives. In addition, other air contaminants of relevance to human health, including smoke from wildfires and airborne pollens and molds, may be influenced by climate change. In this study, the focus is on the ways in which health-relevant measures of air quality, including ozone, particulate matter, and aeroallergens, may be affected by climate variability and change. The small but growing literature focusing on climate impacts on air quality, how these influences may play out in future decades, and the implications for human health is reviewed. Based on the observed and anticipated impacts, adaptation strategies and research needs are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / prevention & control
  • Allergens / adverse effects
  • Fires
  • Greenhouse Effect*
  • Humans
  • Ozone / adverse effects
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects


  • Allergens
  • Particulate Matter
  • Ozone