Air pollution and you

What is air pollution?

You can’t always see it, but air pollution is all around us. It comes from many sources and can be very damaging to our health.

We can breathe harmful gases and tiny particles deep into our lungs. Some of the smallest particles may also pass into our bloodstreams.

By learning more about air pollution you can help tackle it and protect your health.

Mythbusting

Your health

Dirty air makes a major contribution to ill health and early death in our communities. In towns and cities, road vehicles are the main source of air pollution. But we can be affected by poor indoor air quality too.

Everyone is at risk. Air pollution harms our health at every stage of life and is even linked to early deaths. In fact, the effects can start as early a baby’s first few weeks in the womb.

The most vulnerable people in society are hit hardest – children, older people and those already in poor health.

Who's at risk?

Air pollution affects everyone’s health, from birth to death.

Unborn babies and children

Air pollution has been linked to premature births, low birthweight and miscarriage. Children are more vulnerable as their organs and immune systems are still developing. It can lead to childhood asthma, aggravate asthma attacks, lung damage and a lifetime of health problems.

The elderly and those with health conditions

Air pollution can really worsen some health conditions, leading to flare ups and triggering heart attacks and strokes. There is now research showing that air pollution potentially increases the risk of getting dementia.

Adults, especially in cities, and drivers

Adults are also vulnerable to air pollution. People who spend more time in areas with a high concentration of air pollution are most affected. That includes some drivers and people who spend a lot of time in cities.

What can you do?

Find out more

What are the effects?

Without knowing it, we can breathe invisible gases and fine particles deep into our lungs. After just a few hours, air pollution can irritate your eyes, nose and throat.

In the longer term, it has also been linked to some cancers, stroke, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and furring of the arteries. It can make cough and phlegm symptoms worse and increase the risk of getting bacterial pneumonia.

We’re still learning about the effects, but recent studies have also made links to dementia, reduced cognitive function and Type 2 diabetes.

Cause of 1/3 of deaths*

One third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution (WHO).

Children could live 6 months longer

Tackling air pollution could help our children live longer, healthier lives.

1,200 early GM deaths per year

Air pollution contributes to at least 1,200 deaths each year in Greater Manchester.

£5.3 billion health + social care cost

The estimated cost of air pollution in England by 2035 unless action is taken.

One third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution (WHO).

Tackling air pollution could help our children live longer, healthier lives.

Air pollution contributes to at least 1,200 deaths each year in Greater Manchester.

The estimated cost of air pollution in England by 2035 unless action is taken.

A message from Greater Manchester's Director of Public Health for Air Quality,
Eleanor Roaf

“We estimate in Greater Manchester that air pollution is the biggest environmental cause of poor health. Up to 1,200 deaths each year are contributed to by poor air quality.

“In Greater Manchester our poor health is not only about the air we breathe but because we aren’t active enough and we need to be cycling and walking more.”