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Why Air Quality Monitoring Matters

Why Air Quality Monitoring Matters

Air pollution causes premature deaths and has significant consequences on the global economy. This has been presented in several reports recently.

Air pollution has emerged as the fourth-leading risk factor for deaths worldwide. The World Bank states that 1 in 10 deaths worldwide is caused by air pollution exposure. In the report The Cost of Air Pollution: Strengthening the Economic Case for Action they present that an estimated 5.5 million lives were lost in 2013 to diseases related to outdoor and household air pollution, causing human suffering and reducing economic development. Those deaths cost the global economy about US$225 billion in lost labour income in 2013 and more than US$5 trillion in welfare losses, pointing toward the economic burden of air pollution.

In the report The Economic Consequences of Outdoor Air Pollution, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) also provides assessments of the costs of outdoor air pollution, focusing on impacts on human health, and agriculture, and the direct as well as indirect consequences for the economy and welfare.

Higher concentrations of particulate matter (PM2.5) and ground level ozone are to be expected as the emissions of air pollutants rise. The concentrations of these compounds are already above the levels recommended by the WHO air quality guidelines in many regions.

The increase in concentrations of emissions will lead to effects on the economy. Healthcare costs, effects on labour productivity, and agricultural crop reduction are estimated to lead to increasing global economic costs.

The most severe consequence from outdoor air pollution is the increase in the number of premature deaths. This is estimated to increase from 3 million people in 2010, to 6-9 million annually in 2060. In line with that, the global welfare costs related to illness will increase accordingly.

As the preconditions differ throughout the world, both when it comes to sources of air pollutant emissions and the economic consequences of air pollution, policies have to be specified to local conditions. Nevertheless, it is important to adopt relevant technologies, implement air quality standards and emission pricing to help the worst impacts of air pollution.

OECD points out that policies to limit air pollution emissions would lead to an improvement in air quality.
Read the complete World Bank report The Cost of Air Pollution: Strengthening the Economic Case for Action!

Read the complete OECD report The Economic Consequences of Outdoor Air Pollution!


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Svante Wallin
President, OPSIS AB