New WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines

Copenhagen and Geneva, 22 September 2021

Every year, exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million premature deaths and result in the loss of millions more healthy years of life. In children, this could include reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. In adults, ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of premature death attributable to outdoor air pollution, and evidence is also emerging of other effects such as diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions. This puts the burden of disease attributable to air pollution on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking.


Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental threats to human health, alongside climate change. Improving air quality can enhance climate change mitigation efforts, while reducing emissions will in turn improve air quality. By striving to achieve these guideline levels, countries will be both protecting health as well as mitigating global climate change.

WHO has issued new guidelines which recommend air quality levels for 6 pollutants, where evidence has advanced the most on health effects from exposure. When action is taken on these so-called classical pollutants – particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon monoxide (CO), it also has an impact on other damaging pollutants.

See more here: Air pollution

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