Ambient Air Quality

Air pollution is the leading environmental health risk in the Americas (WHO, 2016a) Preventing Diseases through healthy environments, 2016).  The World Health Organization estimated that one out of every nine deaths worldwide is the result of ambient air pollution-related conditions (WHO, GBoD 2016). Ambient air pollution: a global assessment of exposure and burden of disease. The most health-relevant air pollutants are particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of 10 micron or less, which can penetrate deep inside the lungs and induce reaction of the surface and defense cells. Most of these pollutants are the product of burning of fossil fuels, but their composition may vary according to their sources. Based in all the evidence of the health effects to exposure to ambient air pollution, the WHO air quality guidelines recommend a maximum exposure of 20 µg/m3 for PM10 and a maximum exposure of 10 µg/m3 for PM2.5 (WHO, 2005).

In the Americas, 93 000 deaths in low and middle income countries (LMIC) and 44 000 in high income (HI) countries are attributable to ambient air pollution, being age-standardized deaths per capita 18 per 100 000 in LMIC countries and 7 per 100 000 in HI countries (WHO, GBoD 2016).