The World Health Organisation states that air pollution is a “public health emergency”.
The World Health Organisation states that air pollution is a “public health emergency”.

Nine out of ten people breath polluted air which exceeds the safe guideline limits outlined by the World Health Organisation.

Air pollution is the 5th highest health risk factor for death in the world, 7 million people die every year. Air pollution causes one third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease.

Particles of soot can pass from the lungs into the placenta of pregnant women living in areas with poor air quality.


How does air pollution affect our health?

Particulate matter, or PM10 is the term used to describe the mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air.

PM2.5 is known as fine particulate matter. These are particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres (µm) or one 400th of a millimetre wide. Fine particulate matter is considered to be the most harmful to human health.

Fine particulates and Nitrogen Dioxide make their way into the human body where they inflame and constrict the movement of blood in fine blood vessels which increases blood pressure.

This can happen within the lungs, heart, and throughout the whole body, raising the risk of stroke or heart attack and heart disease.

Particulate matter is can be either human made or occur naturally, and includes dust, soot, ash and sea-spray. It is emitted during the combustion of solid and liquid fuels, such as power generation, domestic heating, and vehicle engines.


PM can cause headaches and anxiety, strokes, and dementia. PM2 matter can make its way into the central nervous system.


PM causes breathing problems, including asthma, reduced lung function, and COPD


PM2 can harden the arteries and constrict blood vessels, leading to coronary disease and heart attacks


PM and NO2 can make their way into the bloodstream reducing the body’s natural ability to detoxify

Reproduction and babies

Airborne soot can pass from the lungs into the placenta of pregnant women. It is thought possible that this can result in premature birth and other defects.

Health Risks

The biggest impact of particulate air pollution is understood to come from long term exposure which the human body can carry as a health burden for long periods of time.

All people are at risk but those with greater exposure or susceptibility are at the highest risk, especially children, and unborn children. People living in cities with high pollution levels and office workers in poorly ventilated buildings.

The health risks include:

  • Low birth weight caused by air pollution passing across the placenta of pregnant women living in low air quality areas
  • Lower fertility levels in women trying to conceive
  • Critical heart conditions and damage to other key body organs
  • Inflammation in the lining of the lungs and reductions in immunity leading to lung infections
  • People with asthma are generally at greater risk for the health effects of Nitrogen Dioxide
  • Rising asthma levels seen in people living in cities with high pollution levels, especially in children
  • Office workers in poorly ventilated buildings
  • Poorer lung health for the elderly, especially people with lung conditions
  • With relatively small increases in exposure to air pollution our lungs age more quickly and risk of COPD increases
of exposure
How can exposure
be reduced