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Air Quality Life Index Finds That Air Pollution Cuts Global Lifespan By 2 Years in 2022

By December 7, 2022 No Comments
8 minutes to read

Air pollution is scientifically correlated to a range of health conditions, and causal links between air pollution exposure and deadly diseases including stroke, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, lung diseases, and other conditions. Overall, the impact of air pollution on our health results in reduced life expectancy. 

In this article, air quality experts from global air filtration leader Camfil discuss the 2022 AQLI report findings. 

What Is the Air Quality Life Index?

The Air Quality Life Index, or AQLI, is a metric produced by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) that expresses air pollution concentration in terms of its impact on human life expectancy. In addition to showing the impacts of current pollution levels, the AQLI makes policy suggestions to reduce air pollution exposure and increase our life expectancy.

While many efforts to reduce air pollution focus on CO2 and other greenhouse gases, particulate matter is considered by the EPA to be the greatest environmental threat, as well as the deadliest to the human body. 

Particulate matter pollution has declined by 64.2% in the United States since the introduction of the Clean Air Act in 1970, leading to an increased life expectancy of 1.3 years. Despite this success, recent scientific evidence has shown that 92.8% of the U.S. population are living in areas with unsafe levels of pollution according to guidelines by the World Health Organization.

AQLI Findings in the United States

Despite overall reductions in pollution levels since 1998, there is still room for improvement: 

  • The average level of particle pollution in the United States was 7.1 μg/m3 as of 2020. This is  above the World Health Organization’s guideline of 5 μg/m3
  • If pollution levels were to be reduced to the WHO guideline, the average American could expect to gain 2.5 months of life expectancy, which totals 68 million life years for the whole population. 
  • The West Coast, particularly California’s Central Valley, would see the greatest benefit from reductions in pollution, where increasingly severe wildfires in recent years have led to rising pollution levels. 
  • In 2020, 19 of the 20 most polluted counties in the United States were in California. 
  • In the nation’s most polluted county, Mariposa County’s pollution levels stand  at 22.6 μg/m3. Residents stand to gain 1.7 years of life expectancy if air pollution isreduced to the WHO guideline. 

AQLI Findings Across the World — Air Pollution Impact on Global Life Expectancy 

In other countries around the world, air pollution has a much greater impact on average life expectancy. Here are some of the most severely impacted countries: 

  • Bangladesh — 6.9 years
  • China — 2.6 years
  • India — 5.0 years
  • Indonesia — 5.0 years
  • Pakistan — 3.8 years

Air Filtration Technology Reduces Air Pollution Exposure

Policy changes are a slow process, and the practical effects of those changes can be even slower. What can we do to protect our bodies from the effects of particle air pollution in the meantime? 

Given that Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors, where particulate matter concentration is often two to five times higher than outside, ensuring that indoor air stays clean is essential for keeping Americans safe. Fortunately, a range of science-backed air filtration solutions are available to meet the varying needs of different applications. 

Contact a Camfil representative to determine the best air filtration system to protect your people and processes. 

About Camfil Clean Air Solutions

For more than half a century, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. We firmly believe that the best solutions for our customers are the best solutions for our planet, too. That’s why every step of the way – from design to delivery and across the product life cycle – we consider the impact of what we do on people and on the world around us. Through a fresh approach to problem-solving, innovative design, precise process control, and a strong customer focus we aim to conserve more, use less and find better ways – so we can all breathe easier.

The Camfil Group is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has 31​ manufacturing sites, six R&D centers, local sales offices in 35+ countries, and about 5,200 employees and growing. We proudly serve and support customers in a wide variety of industries and in communities across the world. To discover how Camfil USA can help you to protect people, processes and the environment, visit us at 


Media Contact: 

Lynne Laake 

Camfil USA Air Filters 

T: 888.599.6620 


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