State of Global Air Report 2024 underlines the air quality emergency

State of Global Air Report 2024 underlines the air quality emergency - article image

28 June, 2024

Following the recent release of the State of Global Air Report 2024, the European Respiratory Society (ERS) reiterates the risks which air pollution and poor air quality continue to pose to human health worldwide.

The report provides an analysis of air quality and its health impacts across the world and includes data for more than 200 countries and territories. Air pollution was the second largest risk factor of deaths in 2021, only surpassed by high blood pressure, and was linked to more than 700,000 deaths of children under the age of five; it accounted for more 8.1 million deaths worldwide.

In addition, the report states that fine particulate matter (PM2.5, both ambient and household together) is to blame for 90% of the total air pollution disease burden overall – PM2.5 can enter the bloodstream and affect organs throughout the body, causing lung disease, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Millions more people continue to live with chronic illnesses caused by air pollution.

Air pollution accounts for 15% of all deaths in children under five years old. This statistic is made even more pertinent given that a major focus of ERS advocacy activity is on childhood respiratory health. The Society continues to demand that more is done to protect the lung health of current and future generations.

Prof. Barbara Hoffmann, ERS Advocacy Council Chair, said:

“Almost every person in the world breathes unhealthy air every day. The disease burden from air pollution is increasing worldwide. Even in Europe, where air pollution levels are slowly decreasing in many areas, the true disease burden and societal costs of air pollution are much larger than previously estimated.

“The State of Global Air 2024 report underlines the importance of policymakers and governments prioritising the improvement of air quality. Inaction in tackling an issue which deeply impacts current and future generations is unacceptable.”

View the full State of Global Air 2024 report here.