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Trends in the global health burden from outdoor air pollution

Trends in global health linked to fine particulate matter

Globally, deaths that can be linked to breathing fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increased from about 3.5 million in 1990 to 4.2 million in 2015. This increase can be explained in part by higher levels of fine particles in the air. But other factors also matter, such as growing human populations, the movement of people to cities where air pollution is worse, and the growing numbers of old people who are more likely to get ill when they breathe air pollutants.
 

Trends in the numbers of deaths linked to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air for the 10 most populous countries and the European Union.

 

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The figure also shows important trends when comparing countries. Since 1990, China and India have accounted for the highest numbers of deaths linked to fine particle pollution. The numbers of deaths linked to particles have historically been larger in China than in India. But the gap between them is closing rapidly, as the number of deaths in China is stabilizing, while the number of deaths in India continues to grow.

Trends in global health linked to ozone

The State of Global Air site also provides trends in the numbers of deaths from chronic lung disease (specifically chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD) linked to ozone exposure in countries around the world. On a global basis, the fraction of COPD deaths linked to ozone has increased from 5% in 1990 to 8% in 2015. Much of that increase occurred in India, while the number of deaths linked to ozone in China remained about the same.

Trends in the numbers of deaths from COPD linked to ozone exposure.

 

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Explore the data

You can also explore global patterns and trends in the numbers and rates of DALYs related to both fine particulate matter and ozone using the interactive tools in Explore the Data. Compare results among individual countries and regional groupings. See the How To page for more detailed instructions.