Air Quality Life Index • July 2020
2020 Annual Update
By Michael Greenstone and Claire Qing Fan
Particulate air pollution was the greatest risk to human health before COVID-19, cutting global life expectancy by two years on average over the last two decades. And, without robust public policy, it will continue to be the greatest threat long after a COVID-19 vaccine exists. Working unseen inside the human body, air pollution’s deadly effects on the heart, lungs, and other systems have a more devastating impact on life expectancy than communicable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, behavioral killers like cigarette smoking, and even war.