Air pollution:

What’s the issue?

Air quality can be an underrated factor of disease. Yet, according to WHO, an estimated 4.2 million people die each year as a result of air pollution. Of these deaths, 89% are respiratory health related. The health effects of air pollution range in severity from irritated airways and dizziness, exacerbation of asthma to causing lung cancer or COPD. It has been estimated that exposure to ambient air pollution can account for 14,400 premature deaths in Canada each year. This includes various diseases, resulting from the exposure – not solely respiratory. However, it does not necessarily include diseases that are the result of radon exposure, as that is not considered ambient air pollution. Below are the human costs of ambient air pollution in Canada as of 2016, specific to respiratory diseases.


Cause Years lost (due to ambient air pollution) Ambient air pollution attributable deaths
Lower respiratory infections 4,643 343
Trachea, bronchus, lung cancer 12,454 583
COPD 13,757 915
Total 30,854 1,841