Fraction of all-cause adult mortality attributable to ambient anthropogenic particulate air pollution (measured as fine particulate matter, PM2.5)


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Headline data

Source: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and Air Pollution and Climate Change Group Public Health England (COMEAP)

Geographical Area: England

Unit of Measurement: Percentage (%)

Footnote: Please note the y axis does not go to 100% for ease of visualisation.

This table provides metadata for the actual indicator available from UK statistics closest to the corresponding global SDG indicator. Please note that even when the global SDG indicator is fully available from UK statistics, this table should be consulted for information on national methodology and other UK-specific metadata information.

Indicator available

Fraction of all-cause adult mortality attributable to ambient anthropogenic particulate air pollution (measured as fine particulate matter, PM2.5)

Indicator description
Geographical coverage


Unit of measurement

Percentage (%)


Fraction of annual all-cause adult mortality attributable to anthropogenic (human-made) particulate air pollution (measured as fine particulate matter, PM2.5). Mortality burden associated with long-term exposure to anthropogenic particulate air pollution at current levels, expressed as the percentage of annual deaths from all causes in those aged 30+. PM2.5 means the mass (in micrograms) per cubic metre of air of individual particles with an aerodynamic diameter generally less than 2.5 micrometers. PM2.5 is also known as fine particulate matter. Within the CSV, Local Authority is comprised of Counties and Unitary Authorities.

Available disaggregations

Background annual average PM2.5 concentrations for the year of interest are modelled on a 1km x 1km grid using an air dispersion model, and calibrated using measured concentrations taken from background sites in Defra’s Automatic Urban and Rural Network (http://uk- Data on primary emissions from different sources and a combination of measurement data for secondary inorganic aerosol and models for sources not included in the emission inventory (including re-suspension of dusts) are used to estimate the anthropogenic (human-made) component of these concentrations. By approximating LA boundaries to the 1km by 1km grid, and using census population data, population weighted background PM2.5 concentrations for each lower tier LA are calculated. This work is completed under contract to Defra, as a small extension of its obligations under the Ambient Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC). Concentrations of anthropogenic, rather than total, PM2.5 are used as the basis for this indicator, as burden estimates based on total PM2.5 might give a misleading impression of the scale of the potential influence of policy interventions (COMEAP, 2012).

Other information

This indicator is being used as an approximation of the UN SDG Indicator. Where possible, we will work to identify or develop UK data to meet the global indicator specification. This indicator has been identified in collaboration with topic experts.

Data last updated 10 February 2022
Metadata last updated 10 February 2022

This table provides information on metadata for SDG indicators as defined by the UN Statistical Commission. Complete global metadata is provided by the UN Statistics Division.

Indicator name

Mortality rate attributed to household and ambient air pollution

Target name

By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination

Global indicator description
UN designated tier

Tier I

UN custodian agency

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Link to UN metadata United Nations Sustainable Development Goals metadata for target 3.9 opens in a new window

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and Air Pollution and Climate Change Group Public Health England (COMEAP)



Earliest available data


Geographical coverage


Link to data source 3.01 Fraction of mortality attributable to particulate air pollution opens in a new window
Release date 05 October 2017
Next release


Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details
Other information

An increase of 10 ug/m3 in population-weighted annual average background concentration of PM2.5* is assumed to increase all-cause mortality rates by a unit relative risk (RR) factor of 1.06. For a population-weighted modelled annual average anthropogenic background PM2.5 concentration x, RR is calculated as (1.06)(x/10) (COMEAP, 2010). The fraction of deaths attributable to PM2.5 is expressed as a percentage, calculated as 100*(RR-1)/RR. Population-weighted annual average concentrations of anthropogenic PM2.5 were provided by AEA for all lower tier and unitary LAs within England. These were combined to produce figures at upper tier, regional and national level so that attributable fractions can be calculated at those scales also. The 2011 data for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly have been combined.