Air pollution

Ambient air pollution - a major threat to health and climate

Smog over Delhi
Photography by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrie - Smog over New Delhi

Ambient air pollution accounts for an estimated 4.2 million deaths per year due to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases. Around 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits. While ambient air pollution affects developed and developing countries alike, low- and middle-income countries experience the highest burden, with the greatest toll in the WHO Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions.

Policies and investments supporting cleaner transport, energy-efficient housing, power generation, industry and better municipal waste management can effectively reduce key sources of ambient air pollution.

fact buffet

4.2 milliondeaths worldwide every year are attributed to ambient air pollution

Ambient air pollution health risks

91%of the world's population live in places exceeding WHO air quality guidelines

WHO country estimates on air pollution exposure

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, to strengthen capacity for air quality monitoring worldwide and assessment and reporting of related health impacts in a transparent and harmonized way. The Platform aims to stimulate policies that reduce air pollution exposures and related deaths and disease.

Contact us

Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health (PHE)
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Switzerland