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Facts and stats on air pollution

Poor air quality is bad for our health, planet and economies. Here are some alarming statistics and facts about air pollution to help you make the case for clean air.


Invisible particles penetrate cells and organs in our bodies – our lungs, heart, blood and brain. This leads to diseases like asthma, strokes, heart attacks, cancer and dementia, and ultimately death:

  • Air pollution is the largest environmental threat to human health worldwide. Source: WHO
  • 8,43 million premature deaths annually attributed to air pollution. Source: BMJ
  • 4th most deadly health risk worldwide. Source: IHME
  • 9 out of 10 deaths attributed to outdoor air pollution are in low and middle income countries. Source: Lancet
  • 570,000 deaths of children under 5 per year. Source: WHO
  • Shortens global average life expectancy by 2.2 years. Source: EPIC.


Air pollution is bad for business. It hampers workforce productivity and damages overall economic activity:

Climate change and environment

Air pollution exacerbates climate change, and harms biodiversity and ecosystems:

  • Global crop yield losses of between 3-16%. Source: UNECE
  • Short Lived Climate Pollutants are responsible for 45% of current global temperature increases. Source: CCAC
  • 85% of all global air pollution comes from burning fossil fuels and biomass. Source: NCBI


Despite the damage air pollution inflicts on our health, planet and economy, clean air projects are chronically underfunded. Here are some key funding stats from our annual report on The State of Global Air Quality Funding:

  • 1% of international development funding ($2.5 billion per year) goes to clean air projects
  • 2% of international public climate finance ($1.66 billion per year) goes to clean air projects
  • 0.1% of philanthropic funding goes to clean air projects

Gets the latest news on air quality

Find out about the latest research on air pollution and news about efforts from the clean air movement.