List of Common Diseases Caused by Air Pollution

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 31/05/2022

After smoking, dietary risks and high blood pressure, air pollution - man-made as well as natural - is the fourth-largest cause of deteriorating human health. As per the Health Effects Institute’s (HEI) report called State of Global Air, 2020, one of the biggest health risks in India is air pollution, leading to concerns of rising diseases due to air pollution.

According to the report, over one lakh infants less than a month old lost their lives due to the pollution caused by the household as well as outdoor particulate matter. The report further stated that in 2019 sustained exposure to such PM pollution led to the deaths of more than 1.67 million people due to heart attack, diabetes, stroke, chronic lung disease and lung cancer.

The report also established a direct link between rising air pollution and higher incidences of diseases due to air pollution, such as lung and heart ailments, which further increases the risk of a more severe impact of Covid-19. In this article, we will look at the list of diseases caused by air pollution.

Causes of Air Pollution

The major contributors to air pollution are:

  • Indoor air pollution
  • Wildfires
  • Construction and demolition
  • Fossil fuel burning
  • Open garbage burning
  • Fossil fuel-based modes of transportation

If you have ever looked at the deteriorating Air Quality Index and wondered air pollution causes which diseases, read on.

10 Diseases Caused by Air Pollution

Here is the list of 10 diseases caused by air pollution:

  • Asthma : Asthma is one of the most common diseases caused by the pollution of the air. It narrows and swells the airways and produces extra mucus, making it difficult to breathe. Asthma is a chronic air pollution disease that causes severe breathlessness, making even daily, regular activities a task.

  • Bronchitis : Sustained exposure to higher air pollution, especially a high percentage of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in the air, can lead to bronchitis. Acute inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes (carry air to and from the lungs), Bronchitis can be an acute or a chronic disease caused by air pollution. Major symptoms of bronchitis are shortness of breath and sustained, severe coughing with thick mucus.

  • Lung Cancer : Pulmonary or lung cancer is generally caused by smoking, exposure to cigarette smoke by non-smokers, certain air-borne toxins, family history or sustained exposure to toxic air pollution. Common symptoms include severe chest pain, cough, wheezing sound, hoarseness and weight loss.

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): A chronic condition, COPD leads to obstruction in the airways to the lungs, leading to difficulty in breathing, wheezing and chronic cough. One of the common diseases caused by pollution of air, COPD causes irreparable damage to the lungs and further leads to severe conditions such as bronchitis and emphysema.

  • Birth defects: Prenatal and neonatal exposure to toxic air can lead to air pollution diseases and defects at the time of birth. Some major concerns include preterm birth, low weight at birth, persistent and chronic cold and cough, multiple allergies that present themselves growing up and even neurological issues. Therefore, pregnant ladies are asked to ensure a proper and regular supply of clean, fresh and unpolluted air.

  • Immune system disorders: Prenatal and neonatal exposure to air pollution can also lead to lower immunity making the baby susceptible to a wide range of health concerns. Diseases due to air pollution among infants can lead to major health issues growing up.

  • Cardiovascular issues: Sustained exposure to particulate matter pollution and poisonous gases can impact the function of blood vessels and hasten calcification in the arteries. The severity of the heart diseases due to air pollution depends on the type of pollutants exposed to and the duration.

  • Pneumonia: Caused primarily due to the bacteria, fungi and parasites in polluted air, Pneumonia is a serious, sometimes fatal, air pollution disease that impacts children and the elderly alike. It is an infection of the lung that causes the air sacs in one or both the lungs to get filled with pus, leading to difficulty in breathing, phlegm-riddled coughs, chills and fever.

  • Leukaemia : Leukaemia is a blood and bone marrow cancer that leads to easy bruising, joint and bone pain, bleeding, weight loss, fever and so on. Major causes of leukaemia are exposure to radiation and airborne toxic chemicals, family history, smoking, etc.

  • Untimely, early deaths: Certain toxic pollutants in the air, especially ones released by factories, can cause adverse reactions for some people, leading to asphyxiation and death. The number of young people dying due to reactions and diseases caused by air pollution is on the rise.

Protect Yourself Against the Current Lifestyle Challenges with Health Insurance

Not just air pollution diseases, but there has been a steady rise in the diseases caused by pollution of water, noise pollution and so on. The current lifestyle is stressful, busy and noisy, with limited access to clean, fresh and unpolluted air and water. As a result, diseases caused by pollution are on the rise. Add that to the rising medical inflation, and quality healthcare becomes a challenge for an average Indian. This is where a health insurance plan helps.

Health insurance is a critical part of every family’s financial plan. It helps the insured members avail of quality treatment without worrying about the expenses. Additionally, health insurance tax benefits help you save tax under Section 80D of the Indian Income Tax Act.

Tata AIG offers comprehensive health insurance with our Medicare range of health insurance plans. With three plan variants, you can choose the coverage that truly suits your needs and budget. You can also opt for our super top-up plan Medicare Plus to enhance your existing health coverage.

For more information about our health insurance policies, get in touch with our insurance experts today.


Prevention is definitely better than cure. Globally, everyone should make efforts to reduce pollution by adopting environmentally-friendly and sustainable practices. However, pollution-related issues will not be solved in a day. To take care of the rising medical costs and diseases caused by pollution, buy a health insurance policy today.

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