Indoor air pollution from solid fuel use and urban outdoor air pollution are estimated to be responsible for 3.1 million premature deaths world-wide every year and 3.2% of the global burden of disease. More than half of the health burden from air pollution is borne by people in developing countries.
Air pollutants have been linked to a range of adverse health effects, including respiratory infections, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer. Reduction of air pollution levels will decrease the global burden of disease from these illnesses.
Pollution prevention requires policies on air quality and transport, air pollution control regulations in cities, emission controls in industry and promotion of clean, renewable energy sources. Interventions to reduce indoor air pollution include switching from home use of solid fuel to cleaner fuels, and efficient technology and ventilation in homes, schools and the working environment, and stopping smoking. Efforts to significantly reduce air pollutants will also help to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of global warming.
Short information documents for decision makers
Exposure to air pollution: A major public health concern (WHO, 2010)
- Health effects of transport-related air pollution: summary for policy-makers (pdf)
- Evidence for policy-makers
- IARC: Diesel and gasoline engine exhaust and some nitroarenes (In press)
Tools for action
Outdoor air pollution: Assessing the environmental burden of disease at national and local levels
- Monitoring ambient air quality for health impact assessment (pdf, 734kb)
- Interventions to reduce indoor air pollution
Solutions to the indoor air pollution problem. Thematic briefing 3
Norms and guidance values
- Air quality Guidelines - Global update 2005. Particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide (pdf)
- WHO Indoor air quality guidelines for selected pollutants (pdf)
- WHO Guidelines for indoor air quality: dampness and mould (2009)