Air quality

The air we breathe contains emissions from motor vehicles, industry, heating and commercial sources, as well as tobacco smoke and household fuels. Air pollution harms human health, particularly in those already vulnerable because of their age or existing health problems.

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Conference on health and climate sets European priorities

WHO estimates that climate change will cause over 250 000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050, as a result of factors including air pollution; an increase in food-, water-, and vector-borne diseases; extreme weather events; and food insecurity. At the Second Global Conference on Health and Climate, experts from the European Region identified key priorities to build health systems’ capacity and create climate-resilient societies.

Tools for health impact assessment of air quality: the AirQ+ software

Estimating how many diseases or deaths are caused by air pollution in a given population is the starting point to develop or adjust policies and measures that protect people's health. AirQ+ calculates the magnitude of several health effects associated to exposure to the most significant air pollutants.

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WHO air quality guidelines

The WHO air quality guidelines for outdoor air pollution represent the most widely accepted and up-to-date assessment of health effects of air pollution, recommending targets for air quality at which health risks are significantly reduced.

Air quality guidelines. Global update 2005. Particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide

Data and statistics

One year of life expectancy is lost for every person in the WHO European Region due to exposure to particulate matter (PM). This is mostly due to the increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and lung cancer.

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Key policy resources

Parma Declaration

Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, Parma, Italy, 2010

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