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Health at a Glance 2017

OECD Indicators

image of Health at a Glance 2017

This new edition of Health at a Glance presents the most recent comparable data on the health status of populations and health system performance in OECD countries. Where possible, it also reports data for partner countries (Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, Russian Federation and South Africa). The data presented in this publication come from official national statistics, unless otherwise stated.

This edition contains a range of new indicators, particularly on risk factors for health. It also places greater emphasis on time trend analysis. Alongside indicator-by-indicator analysis, this edition offers snapshots and dashboard indicators that summarise the comparative performance of countries, and a special chapter on the main factors driving life expectancy gains.

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Air pollution

Air pollution is a major environment-related health threat, especially to children and the elderly, as it can cause respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. It has also been linked to low birth-weight, dementia, and damage to DNA and the immune system (WHO, 2017). Outdoor air pollution in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 3 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012 (WHO, 2016), and can also have substantial economic and social consequences, from health costs to building restoration needs and agricultural output (OECD, 2015). Of particular concern for outdoor air pollution are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and ozone, but also fine particulates, or PM2.5, whose diameter is 2.5 μm or smaller. These are potentially more dangerous than the larger particulates (PM10), as they can penetrate deeper into the respiratory tract, and cause severe health effects. In 2015, particulate matter pollution was the cause of over 4.2 million deaths worldwide (Forouzanfar et al., 2016). The WHO has claimed that air pollution is one of the most pernicious threats facing global public health today and on a bigger scale than HIV or Ebola (WHO, 2017).

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