Health effects of air pollution

Long term exposure to ultrafine particles can induce respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. It increases the mortality rates for people living in highly polluted urban areas. Below PM2,5, particles are more harmful because they penetrate deeper into the lung alveoli. They cross blood vessels walls, diffuse into the blood circulation to reach and affect organs function (heart, liver, brain and endocrine system..)

Children are more vulnerable to air pollution, because:

  • Children breathe more than adults per unit body weight,
  • Children airways and lungs are still developing,
  • Children have different detoxification rate and immature immune and defense systems,
  • Children are more susceptible to develop asthma,
  • Children spend more time outdoor, breathing more when playing and practising sports.

Quick facts

According to CAFE (Clean Air For Europe) data (1):

  • every year more than 310 000 Europeans die prematurely due to the effects of air pollution,
  • the average life expectancy of Europeans is reduced by almost 9 months,
  • the impact of air pollution on health care costs is 80 billion euro.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution causes 2 million premature deaths every year worldwide. (2)

According to the EnVIE report (3), in Europe, every year, air pollution is responsible of:

  • 3 to 8% of asthma
  • 20% of lung cancers
  • 4 to 10% of COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

According to the EnVIE report Combustion particles cause nearly half of poor indoor air quality releated diseases in the European Union.


(1) European Union -CAFE Project data: download
(3) European Union Envie Report: download


Getting in touch with us is easy

Contact details

Subscribe to Camfil newsletter