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 – from cookstoves and kerosene lamps to 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. That’s why we at UN Environment are working around the world to tackle air pollution – by supporting cleaner fuels and vehicles, inspiring individuals and city leaders to act, strengthening laws and institutions, and developing affordable technologies to monitor air quality. Read more about our initiatives here.