Air Pollution: What air are you breathing?
Air pollution kills an estimated 7 million people worldwide every year. World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.
Ambient air pollution
There are 4.2 million deaths every year as a result of exposure to ambient (outdoor) air pollution. Ambient air pollution affects everyone−rich and poor, developed and developing countries, but it hits the hardest where the exposure is greatest, low and middle-income countries.
WHO estimates that worldwide ambient air pollution accounts for:
- 29% of all deaths and disease from lung cancer
- 17% of all deaths and disease from acute lower respiratory infection
- 24% of all deaths from stroke25% of all deaths and disease from ischaemic heart disease
- 43% of all deaths and disease from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Indoor air pollution
3.8 million people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to the household air pollution caused by burning smoky fuels in living quarters for cooking, heating, lighting, or safety. Among these 3.8 million deaths:
- 27% are due to pneumonia
- 18% from stroke
- 27% from ischaemic heart disease
- 20% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- 8% from lung cancer.
What air are you breathing?
Over 80% of cities exceed WHO guidelines for safe air.
- Check pollution levels via the WHO interactive global ambient air pollution map
- Explore data from over 4000 cities across the world and check the levels of air pollution in your city via the BreatheLife website
FIRS committed to air pollution advocacy
The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is committed to air pollution advocacy and action. FIRS has produced papers and press releases related to the impacts of air pollution on health:
- FIRS published a two-part review in the journal CHEST: The Damaging Effects of Air Pollution and Air Pollution and Organ Systems
- FIRS' statement in response to the Frankfurter Allgemeine article on air pollution
- Press release: FIRS warns of a link between ambient air pollution and the high incidence of hypersensitivity pneumonitis in urban cities
- Press release: FIRS joins ‘call for urgent action’ at the first WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health
- Press release: Children exposed to ambient air pollution show stunted airway growth
- Press release: Miners exposed to diesel exhaust and respirable dust have increased risk of ischemic heart disease mortality