Air

Air pollution, which kills more than 6 million people every year, is the biggest environmental health risk of our time.

Airborne pollutants are responsible for about one third of deaths from stroke, chronic respiratory disease, and lung cancer, as well as one quarter of deaths from heart attack. Air pollution is also fundamentally altering our climate, with profound impacts on the health of the planet.

Air pollution comes from many sources—the most common are cookstoves and kerosene lamps, coal-fired power plants, vehicle emissions, industrial furnaces, wildfires, and sand and dust storms. The problem is most acute in urban areas, particularly in Africa and Asia. In low- and middle-income countries, 98 per cent of cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants fail to meet the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines.

The good news is that tackling air pollution can bring significant benefits for economies, human health and the climate. Together with a variety of partners, UNEP works with governments, businesses and individuals to tackle air pollution—by supporting cleaner fuels and vehicles, inspiring individuals and city leaders to actstrengthening laws and institutions, and developing affordable technologies to monitor air quality.

Find out more about UNEP’s work to improve air quality.