Mitigating the exposure of the population to air pollution is one of the biggest worldwide environment and health challenges, since both outdoor and indoor air pollution are recognised as significant risk factors for many diseases, and, above all, since all of us come into contact with harmful pollutants when breathing normally. The severity of the health effects of pollutants depends on several factors, including individual vulnerability (e.g. if you are very young or very old; if you suffer from asthma, allergies or other respiratory diseases etc.) and the level of pollution (or concentration of pollutants) in the air you breathe.
Recognising the relevance of air pollution to health, the World Health Organization (WHO), together with many international experts, have provided recommended (safe) levels for the more common pollutants based on many epidemiological studies. These recommendations have been published in several WHO guidelines, together with other scientific data, statistics and other documents on selected topics related to air pollution.
Below is a brief list of WHO guidelines on outdoor and indoor air pollution, along with relevant WHO publications. To find out more, visit the website of WHO Europe.
Health risks of air pollution in Europe (HRAPIE Project). Recommendations for concentration–response functions for cost–benefit analysis of particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe. 2013.
WHO guidelines for indoor air quality: household fuel combustion. Geneva: WHO. 2014