Air pollution

Air pollution affects millions of people worldwide, stemming from diverse sources. Both household and outdoor air pollution pose severe threats related to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancers, and other conditions. 

Photo by Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin.

8% of total disease burden in 2021 was caused by particulate matter air pollution (level 3), making it the leading contributor among risk factors.
48% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is attributable to air pollution.
216 million YLLs (years of life lost) were due to air pollution in 2021.
33% of deaths due to air pollution occurred in South Asia in 2021.

Interactive data visuals

GBD Compare

Compare trends in air pollution and its contribution to deaths and disability due to causes like COPD and lower respiratory infection.

Burden of Proof

Explore the strength of evidence behind various health outcomes associated with exposure to particulate matter and household air pollution.

Datasets in our catalog

Visit the Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx) to download our estimates and data sources for air pollution.


Air pollution data from the Global Burden of Disease

In 2021, ambient particulate matter air pollution was the leading Level 4 risk factor for DALYs among all environmental and occupational risks. It contributed to 120 million DALYs and 4.72 million deaths in 2021.




Air quality and health in cities

This State of Global Air report provides an overview of air pollution levels and associated health impacts in cities around the world.


Global Burden of Disease from Major Air Pollution Sources (GBD MAPS): A Global Approach

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 Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and colleagues.


Health topic