Climate ChangeEnvironmentGlobal HealthNew ModuleOne HealthWiRED Module

WiRED Releases Module on Air Pollution

WiRED Releases Module on Air Pollution

Air Quality is Key to Health

By Allison Kozicharow; Edited by Staff

Air pollution. We have been living with it ever since we began burning fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, cause temperatures to rise and produce chemicals and particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals and plants. A pivotal part to stopping climate change is reducing air pollution.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year an estimated 7 million people die from it and 99% of the world’s population live in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits.

WiRED International now offers a new module that describes air pollution and its causes, common types of air pollutants, effects on human and animal health and the environment, air quality guidelines, health risks, strategies to reduce impacts from indoor air pollution and facts and prevention tips. This module is an effective educational tool for schools and civic groups to use in teaching the general public about air pollution fundamentals.

Air quality is linked to human activities, climate change and global ecosystems. The air we breathe not only affects our health but the health of animals and the environment — as the concept of One Health reminds us. Also, warming temperatures are leading to an increase in the global ferocity and frequency of heat waves, hurricanes, floods and fires.

This module is an effective educational tool for schools and civic groups to use in teaching the general public about air pollution fundamentals.

Human-made causes of air pollution include:

  • Mining and smelting
  • Construction machinery
  • Transportation (e.g., personal vehicles)
  • Industrial factories
  • Power plants
  • Agriculture (e.g., pesticides)

Air pollution can cause or exacerbate any of the following in humans:

  • Asthma and lung diseases
  • Skin rashes and irritations
  • Cancer, notably lung cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as pre-term birth
  • Death

Unfortunately, air pollution most affects underserved communities around the world. In his message for the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies last month, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said:


Like many societal ills, air pollution reflects global inequalities, with most deaths related to air pollution occurring in low- and middle-income countries, and in poorer neighbourhoods in wealthier nations. Poverty forces people to live close to sources of pollution, like factories and highways, and poverty makes 3 billion people continue to burn solid fuels or kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting.

There is still time to reverse air pollution, but only if individuals and nations realize the danger of poor air quality and climate change.

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Air Pollution Quiz

Try a brief quiz about air pollution taken from WiRED's module. You can get details from reading the entire Air Pollution Module.

1 / 4

Cigarette smoke contains up to ___ carcinogenic substances and toxins.

2 / 4

What can reduce indoor air pollution in many poor communities?

3 / 4

___________ are one of the biggest emitters of nitrogen oxides.

4 / 4

Air pollution can lead to irritation of the _____________________.

Your score is

The average score is 57%

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WHO’s Science in 5:
Air Pollution & COVID-19

Click here to watch this video to learn how the bad air we breathe is a major risk factor for COVID-19 sufferers.

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