Publication date: 
December 15, 2021



Published by the Health Effects Institute, Research Report 210 presents a study conducted by Dr. Erin McDuffie and Dr. Randall Martin of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Michael Brauer at The University of British Columbia in Canada and the Insitute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and colleagues.

The investigators produced the first comprehensive global estimates of contributions from the most common sources of air pollution to people’s exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) and to the world’s burden of disease from various causes. They estimated source contributions at global, world region, and national scales using updated emissions inventories categorized by sector and fuel, satellite data and air quality modeling, and the most recent relationships between air quality and health.

Among the key findings:

•    Combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) contributed to an estimated one million deaths globally (27.3% of all mortality); 800,000 of those deaths were in South Asia or East Asia.   

•    Major sources of PM2.5 varied substantially by country, with notable contributions from energy generation, industry, transportation, windblown dust, and agriculture sectors in certain locations.

The data will be incorporated into future iterations of the State of Global Air report, a joint initiative of the Health Effects Institute and IHME.


McDuffie E, Martin R, Yin H, Brauer M. 2021. Global Burden of Disease from Major Air Pollution Sources (GBD MAPS): A Global Approach. Research Report 210. Boston, MA:Health Effects Institute.