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Air Pollution – a Global Threat to our Health

University of Copenhagen via Coursera


We all have to breathe to live. But the air we breathe is polluted both outdoors and indoors. Each year, this pollution costs 7 million lives across the globe – and a lot of suffering. 1 in 8 deaths is due to air pollution. This course will provide you with an introduction to the most recent research in the field of health effects of air pollution as well as a broader understanding of sources and spread of air pollution and what we should do about it.

What is air pollution? What are the sources? How and where are we exposed outdoors and indoors? What happens in the body? Which diseases are the result? Who are the most vulnerable? How can we assess the effects of air pollution? And what should we do to reach the Sustainable Development Goal to “substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution”? These are some of the important questions we will address in the course.

During the course you will meet researchers and experts from the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark. They work with different aspects of air pollution and health: toxicology, exposure assessment, epidemiology, engineering and health impact assessment. It is a global responsibility to combat the health impacts of air pollution, and this fight can only be won through new knowledge and global collaboration.

We hope you will join us in the course and equip yourself to take part in this global and individual health challenge.


  • The air we breathe
    • The air we breathe is full of particles and gases. Some occur naturally, but many are the result of human activities. This first module will look into what air pollution is, where it comes from and what it does to our lungs and the rest of our body.
  • Outdoor air pollution
    • Outdoor air pollution affects all of us – no matter where we are on the Globe. But there are big differences in air pollution levels from one country to another, from rural to urban areas, from city to city, and even from one side of the street to the other. Though all people are affected, some people are more vulnerable to the damaging health effects of air pollution than others. This module will explain about how we can study health effects of exposure to outdoor air pollution in diverse population groups. We will also look at what we can do to fight outdoor pollution – and cope with it.
  • Indoor air pollution
    • Most people spend most of their time indoors. The building envelope traps and accumulates pollution from both indoor and outdoor sources. This module will explain about health effects of indoor use of solid fuel as a particularly important source in large parts of the world, as well as of other sources of indoor air pollution. You will also learn about what you can do to improve the air quality in your home.

Taught by

Steffen Loft and Peter Møller


5.0 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 1421 ratings

Start your review of Air Pollution – a Global Threat to our Health

  • Sylvia Amar completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    It is a course about air pollution and its impacts. It deals with the health issues of air pollution, nature of indoor and outdoor pollution and solutions.
  • Anonymous
    The basics are discussed. Helpful information indeed. Had problems with the readings that are already removed ("error").

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