Clean air is fundamental to health. Compared to 15 years ago, when the previous edition of these guidelines was published, there is now a much stronger body of evidence to show how air pollution affects different aspects of health at even lower concentrations than previously understood. But here’s what hasn’t changed: every year, exposure to air pollution is still estimated to cause millions of deaths and the loss of healthy years of life.
The burden of disease attributable to air pollution is now estimated to be on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diets and tobacco smoking. In 2015, the World Health Assembly adopted a landmark resolution on air quality and health, recognizing air pollution as a risk factor for noncommunicable diseases such as ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and cancer, and the economic toll they take. The global nature of the challenge calls for an enhanced global response.
© World Health Organization 2021.