Better Goods News

50 Shocking Air Pollution Facts and Statistics (2022 Edition)

Jeanne Perrine

Jan 6, 2022

air pollution statistics

Did you know that air pollution is responsible for over 9 million premature deaths a year? Or that it costs the global economy over 2 billion dollars annually? These are just some of the surprising statistics about air pollution.

In this article, we'll explore 50 of the most shocking facts about air pollution. We'll look at the effects of air pollution on human health, the environment, and the economy. And we'll discuss what can be done to combat this growing problem.

We hope this information will help you become more aware of the dangers of air pollution and inspire you to take action.

1. 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air (SUMAS, 2019b).

2. About 7 million people die every year from air pollution.

Almost 90% of deaths occur in countries of low and middle income (SUMAS, 2019b).

3. The European Union’s carbon footprint was equal to 7.1 tons of CO2 per person in 2016 (SUMAS, 2019b).

4. Greenhouse gas emissions in the EU decreased by 22% between 1990 and 2016 (SUMAS, 2019b).

5. IPCC states that human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide need to fall 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero around 2050 (SUMAS, 2019b).

6. Air pollution is the 4th largest threat to human health.

It is 4th behind high blood pressure, dietary risks, and smoking (Breene, 2016).

7. Air pollution led to 1 in 10 deaths in 2013, which cost the global economy about $225 billion in lost labor income (Breene, 2016).

8. World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines state annual average concentrations of PM2.5 should be below 10 micrograms (mcg) per cubic meter.

The big majority of the world’s population is living in areas exceeding this limit (Breene, 2016).

9. Air pollution chops 6.6% off China’s GDP each year.

This percentage is 3% for the U.S. and 2.3% for the U.K (Williams, 2021).

10. Of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, 18 are in China (Williams, 2021).

11. Air pollution kills more people than guns and car accidents put together in the United States (Williams, 2021).

12. Exposure to air pollution divides along racial lines in America, with Hispanic and black Americans facing much greater risks (Williams, 2021).

13. Particulate pollution in China dropped by 29% within 6 years

Despite being the world’s largest carbon emitter and the country with the worst air pollution on the planet, studies demonstrated that the nation made major progress in reducing air pollution thanks to strict policy action (Earth.Org, 2021).

14. A child born today might not breathe clean air until they are 8.

15. Breathing polluted air can reduce life expectancy by up to 2 years (Soomro, 2019).

16. Air pollution in Beijing has raised to a level that humans living there now have a characteristic disease called “Beijing cough” (Soomro, 2019).

17. In 1952, the great smog of London caused 8000 people to die (Soomro, 2019).

18. The European Union has paid 160 Billion Euros for deaths related to air pollution (Soomro, 2019).

19. About 70% of the air pollution in cities of China is because of exhaust pipes (Soomro, 2019).

20. There are about 2 million cars in Manila, the Philippines, which cause as much as 80% of the air pollution over there (Soomro, 2019).

21. In 2050, it is suggested that more than 5 million people will die each year just due to air pollution (Soomro, 2019).

22. Switching to more efficient fuels like electric induction plates in cookstoves or at least cleaner fuels like natural gas helps reduce indoor air pollution rather than using conventional solid fuels such as wood or biomass (Soomro, 2019).

23. Emissions from diesel engines are Class 1 carcinogens (Soomro, 2019).

24. Studies demonstrated that more than 200 pollutants in polluted air can age skin and makes us look older (Soomro, 2019).

25. 4 million people die from indoor air pollution each year (Andreas, nd).

26. India, China, Bangladesh, and Pakistan account for the 50 most polluted cities in the world when it comes to air pollution (Andreas, nd).

27. In Europe, around 90% of ammonia emissions are due to agricultural pollution (Andreas, nd).

28. Apart from man-made causes, natural causes such as volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and sand storms can also contribute to air pollution (Andreas, nd).

29. Air pollution kills more than 1 million seabirds annually (Serious Facts, nd).

30. Producing grave crude oil increases the probability of air pollution (Serious Facts, nd).

31. Beijing experienced 2589 deaths in 2012 because of PM 2.5 pollution (Serious Facts, nd).

32. From China, air pollution is traveling up to the Central Valley of California (Serious Facts, nd).

33. Using an indoor air purifier can help remove 99.97% of indoor air pollutants (Serious Facts, nd).

34. 630 million children under 5 years old are exposed to air pollution below WHO’s quality guidelines (Trvst, 2021a).

35. Lung cancer is responsible for about 6% of outdoor air pollution deaths (Trvst, 2021a).

36. 91% of the world experiences outdoor air pollution (Trvst, 2021a).

37. WHO estimates that reducing the annual particulate matter to align with the WHO guidelines could bring air pollution-related deaths down to 15% (Trvst, 2021a).

38. Between 2010 and 2016, the percentage of the global population exposed to ambient air pollution dropped from 94.2% to 90%.

While air pollution is still a pressing issue, this reduction indicates that management solutions applied are working The Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan, coupled with the transition to cleaner energy, helped decrease PM concentrations in southeastern Asia (Trvst, 2021a).

39. In many parts of the United States, air pollution has reduced the distance of visibility by almost 70%.

This is alarmingly dangerous because, with such reduced rates of visibility, it is quite natural that the number of road accidents too would increase alarmingly (Conserve Energy Future, 2022).

40. The tiniest of the airborne particles in the air can enter our lungs through our bloodstream and can cause several fatal diseases (Conserve Energy Future, 2022).

41. According to 2014 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports, carbon dioxide accounts for a total of 81% of the greenhouse gas emissions, while methane accounts for approximately 11% (Conserve Energy Future, 2022).

42. National Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Climate and Clean Air program estimates that they can make a Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) phase-down that would help curtail about 80 billion tons of carbon dioxide over the next 35 years (Conserve Energy Future, 2022).

43. Deforestation aggravates air pollution too. With a decreased number of plants and trees to absorb the harmful carbon dioxide emissions for photosynthesis, the extent of air pollution increases manifold (Conserve Energy Future, 2022).

44. When cars sit idle in traffic, pollutants sometimes seep inside of your vehicle. This stagnation can make the air inside your car up to 10 times worse than the air outside of your car (Dyson, 2021).

45. The air pollutants creating smog have also been found in the lungs of dolphins, causing black lung disease (Dyson, 2021).

46. Travelers to the Grand Canyon sometimes are not able to see across the canyon because of air pollution that is produced from over 1000 miles away (Dyson, 2021).

47. One of the simplest ways in which you can reduce your air pollution output is to walk or ride a bike (Dyson, 2021).

48. Pneumonia and ischaemic heart disease are the most common causes of premature death brought on by indoor air pollution (Isakov, 2021).

49. The US’s air quality trends seem to have improved nationwide in the past four decades, according to air pollution statistics from the US (Isakov, 2021).

50. The American indoor air quality market should hit $12.2 billion by the year 2023 (Isakov, 2021).

Air pollution is a serious problem that affects the lives of many people around the world. In this article, we've covered 50 statistics about air pollution from various sources and perspectives to help you understand just how air pollution is a pressing issue that affects people all over the world.

From the dangers of reduced visibility to the effects on dolphins, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about air pollution. The data shows that we, as a world, need to take steps in order to reduce the impact of air pollution.

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Jeanne Perrine

Jeanne Perrine works as a Sustainability Consultant where she provides consultancy services in strategic planning and management of sustainability programs. She holds a master’s degree in Sustainability Science. Jeanne was the first Fulbright Scholar from her home island (Rodrigues) and proudly represented the island during her time in the US. In her free time, Jeanne enjoys a good hike, listening to music, and working out.

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