Nine out of Ten People Breathing Unhealthy Air, says WHO

Air pollution is a severe problem that adversely affects human health, the environment, and the economy. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nine out of ten people globally breathe air containing pollutants. The built environment plays a significant role in contributing and or reducing air pollution. By making green design, construction and operating choices and decision our infrastructure sustainably, we can make a substantial difference in the fight against air pollution. Additionally, we can further improve our ability to monitor and reduce air pollution by using technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Digital Twins.

August 13, 2022
Team Hloov

Figure 1 – Built Environment Maintenance

The most significant global environmental threat to public health is air pollution, which accounts for an estimated seven (7) million premature deaths yearly. Although air quality and climate change are intricately linked as all major pollutants significantly impact the atmosphere, most share typical sources with greenhouse gases.

The air we breathe is getting worse, not better; it is affecting more than just your health. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), nine out of ten people worldwide suffer from some form because their environment has become so heavily polluted with harmful particulates that they are in danger both short and long-term. The effects of air pollution on human health are being felt all around the world. For example, in 2016, exposure to PM2.5 reduced average global life expectancy by approximately one year.

Built Environment Connection

In a world where the environment is constantly under pressure, it’s crucial to understand how we affect our spaces. A range of factors causes air pollution; however, the built environment’s contribution, in both the construction and operational phases, cannot be underestimated. The Built Environment is responsible for 40% of the global carbon emissions and is a significant contributor to climate change. In addition, it is responsible for 60-80% of the world’s energy consumption and produces approximately 30% of global waste.

Figure 2 - Built Environment

The construction phase of a building project can have an enormous impact on air quality, both in terms of the materials used and the methods employed. During the operations and maintenance phase, how built environment assets are operated and managed can mitigate or exacerbate the pollution it emits. Fine particles (PM2.5/PM10) are emitted from the combustion of fuels to power our buildings, which can seriously impact human health.

Air pollution from cracks in building exteriors can lead to dampness, mold, and fungi growth within walls, creating an ideal environment for bacteria which may cause illness if they enter your home’s indoor spaces! The risk of asthma increases by 40% when people live near sources where radon gas or other organically derived odors.

Role in Reducing Air Pollution

The role of the built environment in reducing air pollution is evident in multiple ways. The first way is by how we design and construct our buildings. The second way is how we operate our facilities, and the third way is using technology that can help us to monitor and reduce air pollution.

Technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Digital Twins can reduce air pollution by helping us monitor and manage our built environment more effectively. For example, With the help of sensors, we can measure pollution levels to adjust ventilation. Additionally, Digital Twins models will allow us to make more informed decisions about reducing building air quality by showing what impact proposed changes would have on it. The data collected from these instruments provide essential information that helps ensure a healthy environment for everyone.

In conclusion, built environment can play a significant role in reducing air pollution. By leveraging data science and technologies like Digital Twins to make green choices and decisions throughout the project lifecycle (Design, Build, and Use), we can make a substantial difference in the fight against air pollution.

What are some of the ways that you can reduce air pollution in your home or workplace? Share your ideas in the comments on our social media accounts!

Learn more about the role of built environment and climate change at

Built Environment