How Clean Is Our Air?

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution exposure was responsible for seven million deaths in 2012.
Credit eutrophication&hypoxia / Creative Commons

A report released by the World Health Organization last week found that some 7 million people died from air pollution exposure in 2012. In other words, one in eight of all global deaths that year resulted from breathing bad air. 

Today, the WHO considers air pollution to be the single greatest environmental health risk, linking it to cases of asthma, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer.

Cities like London, Paris, and Beijing have been reporting air pollution crises, which have made the air almost unbreathable, and prompted some pretty drastic actions to improve air quality. Closer to home, northeast states have asked for a crackdown on midwest power plants that spew ozone-forming pollution that ends up in our lungs downwind.

This hour, we take a closer look at the air we breathe. Just how polluted is it? What can we do to make it cleaner?


  • David Conroy - Air Division Director for EPA’s New England office
  • Anne Gobin - Bureau Chief of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Air Management
  • Dr. Angel Hsu - Director of the Environmental Performance Measurement Program at the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy
  • Christopher James - Principal with the Regulatory Assistance Project