WHO publishes global air quality guidelines

28 September 2021

Article: 55/3910

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a set of global air quality guidelines, recommending new levels to protect the health of populations by reducing the amounts of key air pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change.

The overall objective of the updated guidelines is to offer quantitative health-based recommendations for air quality management, expressed as long- or short-term concentrations for a number of key air pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), ozone (O₃), nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) sulfur dioxide (SO₂) and carbon monoxide (CO). Exceedance of the air quality guideline (AQG) levels is associated with important risks to public health, with the WHO reporting that the global burden of disease associated with air pollution exposure is exacting a toll on human health worldwide, with exposure to air pollution estimated to cause millions of deaths and lost years of healthy life annually.

The guidelines aim to provide WHO member states with an evidence-informed tool, which they can use to update legislation and policy, helping reduce levels of air pollutants, in order to decrease the health burden resulting from exposure to air pollution worldwide.

Source: WHO, 22 September 2021