Air Pollution

Air pollution is a growing problem in a number of world cities caused by a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold spores may be suspended as particles. Ozone, a gas, is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it’s also called smog.
Air pollution’s toll on human health
Some 3 million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6% of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together.
Nearly 90% of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with nearly 2 out of 3 occurring in WHO’s South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.
Ninety-four per cent are due to noncommunicable diseases – notably cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Air pollution also increases the risks for acute respiratory infections.
“Air pollution continues take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations – women, children and the older adults,” adds Dr Bustreo. “For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last.”
Major sources of air pollution include inefficient modes of transport, household fuel and waste burning, coal-fired power plants, and industrial activities. However, not all air pollution originates from human activity. For example, air quality can also be influenced by dust storms, particularly in regions close to deserts.
Some air pollutants are poisonous. Inhaling them can increase the chance you’ll have health problems. People with heart or lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from air pollution. Air pollution isn’t just outside – the air inside buildings can also be polluted and affect your health.
Environmental Protection Agency
Start Here
• Air Pollution (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)
• Air Quality Index (AQI) — A Guide to Air Quality and Your Health (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards)
• Hazardous Air Pollutants (Environmental Protection Agency)
• Healthy Air Outdoors (American Lung Association)
Latest News
• Pollution Tied to 9 Million Deaths Worldwide in 2015 (10/20/2017, HealthDay)
• Dirty Air Might Harm Your Kidneys (09/21/2017, HealthDay)
• Minorities Exposed to Dirtier Air, U.S. Study Finds (09/18/2017, HealthDay)
Prevention and Risk Factors
• 10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Unhealthy Air (American Lung Association)
• Green Vehicle Guide (Environmental Protection Agency)
• You Can Help Keep the Air Cleaner — Every Day (Environmental Protection Agency)
Related Issues
• Bad Air Day (National Institutes of Health)
• Disparities in the Impact of Air Pollution (American Lung Association)
• Local Air Quality Conditions and Forecasts (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards)
• Protect Yourself: Respirators (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) – PDF
• Risk Assessment for Toxic Air Pollutants: A Citizen’s Guide (Environmental Protection Agency)
• Tox Town (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
• TOXNET: Toxicology Data Network (National Library of Medicine) – Databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, and related areas
• Acid Rain (Environmental Protection Agency)
• Particle Pollution (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
• Particulate Matter (PM) Pollution (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards)
• Transportation, Air Pollution, and Climate Change (Environmental Protection Agency)
• Volcanic Gas (U.S. Geological Survey)
Statistics and Research
• America’s Children and the Environment (Environmental Protection Agency)
• State of the Air 2015 (American Lung Association)
Clinical Trials
• Air Pollution (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
• Article: The impact of prenatal exposure to air pollution on childhood…
• Article: Does air pollution play a role in infertility?: a systematic…
• Article: Community-based participatory research for the study of air pollution: a…
• Air Pollution — see more articles
Find an Expert
• American Lung Association
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Also in Spanish
• National Center for Environmental Health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
• National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Also in Spanish
• Particulate Matter (Environmental Health Student Portal) (National Library of Medicine)
• Air (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health)
• Health Effects of Air Pollution (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health)
Topic Image
alvpics / Pixabay

• Lung problems and volcanic smog
Related Health Topics
• Environmental Health
• Indoor Air Pollution
• Ozone
National Institutes of Health
The primary NIH organization for research on Air Pollution is the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
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