Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where do the data for the State of Global Air come from?

The data used in the State of Global Air report and website are developed as part of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) annual Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors (GBD) project, a systematic, scientific effort to quantify the magnitude of health loss from all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex, and population. With more than 3,600 collaborators in 195 countries and territories, GBD examines over 350 diseases and injuries and 84 behavioral, environmental and metabolic risk factors in every country. Subnational assessments are included for several nations. Scientists from the Health Effects Institute and University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health have held leadership roles in the development of the methods and data to estimate the burden of disease from outdoor air pollution. See Contributors for more information.

2. How can I find results for my country? Is there a tutorial?

The interactive portion of the State of Global Air site contains data for individual countries. Go to Explore the Data and select your country from the “Choose a country” dropdown menu. See further instructions on the How To page.

3. Can I use these data for my own research? If so, how should I cite them?

We encourage the use of State of Global Air data in your research. Materials produced as part of State of Global Air are freely available for downloading, printing, and distribution without alteration, provided that proper credit is given, using the following citation:

Health Effects Institute. 2019. State of Global Air 2019. Available: www.stateofglobalair.org [accessed MM/DD/YYYY].

4. How often are the data for the State of Global Air updated?

The website will be updated annually to reflect the most recent IHME Global Burden of Disease results.

5. Where can I find the report and data from last year?

Both the State of Global Air 2018 report and the interactive data tool are available in the Archives

6. Are data available for years before 1990?

While air quality data for years before 1990 do exist, the Global Burden of Disease data set only goes back to 1990.

7. Are there data for other pollutants (for example, NOx, SO2, black carbon, etc.)?

The focus of the current State of Global Air report is on ambient PM2.5, ambient ozone, and household air pollution associated with the burning of solid fuels for cooking. We will add information on other pollutants as data become available from the GBD project.

Data on other pollutants not included in the State of Global Air (e.g., nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and black carbon) are available on other sites, such as OpenAQ, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and NASA’s Health and Air Quality and Applied Sciences site (HAQAST). (See also FAQ #8.)

8. Where can I find daily air quality data for my country or city?

You can find detailed air quality data for many worldwide locations at the following websites:

Aqicn.org Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index, has current air quality and forecasts for 5 pollutants and 4 weather variables, with maps of nearby monitors.

Openaq.org Open, Real-time Air Quality Data is an open-source platform for real-time and historical, publicly available outdoor air quality data that are available for downloading in a universal data format.

9.  How can I make sure that the air quality monitoring data from my country is included in the GBD air pollution analysis?

One of the major sources for air pollution data used in the GBD initiative is the WHO Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database. Official air pollution monitoring results can be uploaded online following directions on the site. The database is updated every 2 years.

10. Where can I learn more about the Global Burden of Disease project?

To learn more, you can go to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation website. You can learn more about the Health Effects Institute’s role in the GBD project by accessing the HEI Global Health pages.

11.  Why are the life expectancy losses attributed to air pollution reported in the State of Global Air lower than other estimates from the University of Chicago that have been reported in the news?    

The difference lies in the underlying scientific evidence and approach used to make the estimates.  To estimate the loss of life expectancy resulting from air pollution, one needs age-specific mortality rates and a quantitative measure of the relation between exposure and its effects on health. The State of Global Air chose to report the results of an analysis by Professor Joshua Apte at the University of Texas, Austin, because he also relies on data and methods from the Global Burden of Disease project. The pollution exposure–response relationships used in the GBD are based on systematic reviews of the world’s literature and a broad set of observational epidemiological studies of exposure to combustion-related particles. This analysis additionally incorporates country-specific demographic and epidemiological data that affect baseline survival rates. The University of Chicago study relies on observed relationships between air pollution and life expectancy derived from a set of two peer-reviewed quasi-experimental studies of air pollution and mortality conducted in China. 

12. Can I use this website for teaching purposes?

Yes, please do! And we’d like to hear about it. Go to Contact and tell us how you used the data and your experience.

13. Can I subscribe to updates?

If you are interested in receiving updates about the State of Global Air, please sign up to receive updates. Please scroll down to "Sign Up for Updates" at the bottom of the page and enter your contact information. You will receive a confirmation email and you may opt out at any time you want.