The health impacts of air pollution

Air pollution is the largest single environmental health risk and a leading cause of disease and death globally.

In the WHO European Region, exposure to particulate matter (PM) accounted for almost 600,000 premature deaths in 2012. The costs associated with premature deaths and diseases caused by air pollution in the Region have been estimated to equal one tenth of the GDP of the EU in 2013.

WHO Europe has developed AirQ+ which can quantify the health impacts of air pollution from different sources in a given population, supporting policy-makers in evaluating risks and taking appropriate action.

AirQ+ calculates the magnitude of selected health effects associated with exposure to the most relevant air pollutants – those for which there is strong evidence on their adverse effects on health – in a given population. It estimates the health burden associated with long- and short-term exposure to ambient air pollution from PM2.5 and small PM (PM10), ozone, nitrogen dioxide and black carbon, as well as long-term exposure to household air pollution from solid fuel use.

For more information about the health impacts of air pollution on the euro.who.int website.