What is the impact on your health?

Breathing polluted air is harmful to your health. Air pollution affects the young and the old, the rich and the poor, and people in all areas of the globe. 

Over the long term, exposures to air pollution increase a person’s chances of developing and dying early from heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, lung infections, lung cancer, diabetes, and other health problems. Even short-term exposures on high-pollution days can trigger asthma symptoms and cause spikes in hospitalizations related to respiratory or cardiovascular health. Exposures to air pollution also reduce life expectancy — the numbers of years that a person is expected to live. Learn more about both the short- and long-term health effects of air pollution here

The impact that air pollution has on the numbers of people who develop and die early from these diseases is known as air pollution’s burden of disease.

Here you will find the burden of disease that can be attributed to total air pollution — that is, the combined impact from exposures to fine particles (or PM2.5), ozone, and household air pollution — and from each of these pollutants individually. Scroll down to learn about all of air pollution’s impacts, or click on a link below to jump directly to an individual pollutant. 

 

 

 

 

HOW WE ESTIMATE BURDEN

 

Air pollution contributes to millions of deaths

Total air pollution (PM2.5, ozone, and household air pollution) contributed to almost 5 million deaths globally — nearly 1 in every 10 deaths — in 2017.

The 10 countries with the highest mortality burden attributed to air pollution were China (1.2 million), India (1.2 million), Pakistan (128,000), Indonesia (124,000), Bangladesh (123,000), Nigeria (114,000), the United States (108,000), Russia (99,000), Brazil (66,000), and the Philippines (64,000). 

 

Number of deaths attributed to total air pollution in 2017. [Figure J, © HEI] 
Scroll over to see the number of deaths in individual countries. Click on either the colored boxes or on the ranges to select and de-select different concentration ranges. To download the map, click on the black arrow at the upper right corner.

EXPLORE THE DATA

 

The many effects that air pollution has on health are reflected in loss of life expectancy. Read more here. 

 

Health Impacts of PM2.5

Scientific studies have shown that long-term exposure to PM2.5 can contribute to ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke), lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lower-respiratory infections (in particular, pneumonia), and more recently, diabetes.

  • PM2.5 pollution contributed to nearly 3 million deaths, or 5.2% of all global deaths in 2017.

  • More than half of these deaths (52%) occurred in China and India.

  • The number of deaths attributable to PM2.5 grew by 68% between 1990–2017. 

 

Number of deaths attributable to PM2.5 in 2017. [Figure K, © HEI]
Scroll over to see the number of deaths in individual countries. Click on either the colored boxes or on the ranges to select and de-select different concentration ranges. To download the map, click on the black arrow at the upper right corner.

EXPLORE THE DATA

 

Read about the latest patterns and trends in exposures to PM2.5 around the world. Find out about the PM2.5 sources that contribute most to the burden of disease in China and India.

The many effects that air pollution has on health are also reflected in loss of life expectancy. Read more here.

 

Health Impacts of Ozone

Short-term exposure to ozone is linked to asthma exacerbation and other respiratory problems. Long-term exposure to ozone is associated with increased risk of death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

 

Number of deaths attributed to ozone in 2017. [Figure L, © HEI]
Scroll over to see the number of deaths in individual countries. Click on either the colored boxes or on the ranges to select and de-select different concentration ranges. To download the map, click on the black arrow at the upper right corner. 

EXPLORE THE DATA


Read more about patterns and trends in exposures to ozone around the world.

The many effects that air pollution has on health are also reflected in loss of life expectancy. Read more here

 

Health Impacts of Household Air Pollution

Long-term exposure to household air pollution has been linked to cardiovascular disease (ischemic heart disease and stroke), COPD, acute lower-respiratory infections, lung cancer, diabetes, and cataracts. All but cataracts are included in estimates of the global burden of disease.

 

Number of deaths attributed to household air pollution in 2017. [Figure M, © HEI]
Scroll over to see the number of deaths in individual countries. Click on either the colored boxes or on the ranges to select and de-select different concentration ranges. To download the map, click on the black arrow at the upper right corner. 

EXPLORE THE DATA

 

Read more about patterns and trends in exposures to household air pollution around the world.

The many effects that air pollution has on health are also reflected in loss of life expectancy. Read more here.