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Chest. 2019 Feb;155(2):417-426. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2018.10.041. Epub 2018 Nov 9.

Air Pollution and Noncommunicable Diseases: A Review by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies' Environmental Committee, Part 2: Air Pollution and Organ Systems.

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Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep and Allergy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. Electronic address:
Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA.
Divisions of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine and Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.
National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.
Department of Pathology, Wonju Colleage of Medicine, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea.
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom.
National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Mexico City, Mexico.
Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca Morelos, Mexico.
Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM.
Departments of Environmental Medicine and Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY.
The Hospital for Sick Children, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Department of Paediatrics and Child Health & MRC Unit on Child and Adolescent Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
School of Earth, Society, and Environment, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL.


Although air pollution is well known to be harmful to the lung and airways, it can also damage most other organ systems of the body. It is estimated that about 500,000 lung cancer deaths and 1.6 million COPD deaths can be attributed to air pollution, but air pollution may also account for 19% of all cardiovascular deaths and 21% of all stroke deaths. Air pollution has been linked to other malignancies, such as bladder cancer and childhood leukemia. Lung development in childhood is stymied with exposure to air pollutants, and poor lung development in children predicts lung impairment in adults. Air pollution is associated with reduced cognitive function and increased risk of dementia. Particulate matter in the air (particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 μm) is associated with delayed psychomotor development and lower child intelligence. Studies link air pollution with diabetes mellitus prevalence, morbidity, and mortality. Pollution affects the immune system and is associated with allergic rhinitis, allergic sensitization, and autoimmunity. It is also associated with osteoporosis and bone fractures, conjunctivitis, dry eye disease, blepharitis, inflammatory bowel disease, increased intravascular coagulation, and decreased glomerular filtration rate. Atopic and urticarial skin disease, acne, and skin aging are linked to air pollution. Air pollution is controllable and, therefore, many of these adverse health effects can be prevented.


air pollution; noncommunicable diseases; organ systems

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