Pollution Management and Environmental Health Program

Air, land, and water pollution caused 9 million premature deaths in 2016, or 16% of all deaths worldwide. About 92% of all pollution-related mortality is seen in low-income and middle-income countries, with the poor, marginalized, and young hardest hit by the health effects of the contamination. The economic burden is immense: in 2019, air pollution alone cost the global economy US$8.1 trillion—6.1 percent of global GDP.

The World Bank is committed to supporting countries most severely impacted by pollution by providing technical assistance on pollution management, facilitating knowledge generation and sharing, and raising awareness about the detrimental impact on global health.

Over the past 12 years, FY04–17, the World Bank Group approved 534 pollution- relevant activities, accounting for approximately US$43 billion in commitments. These projects have contributed significantly resulting in air pollution reduction in Peru, Pakistan, and Vietnam and easing contamination on land and in rivers in a number of developing countries.

Over the last several years, stakeholders across low and middle-income countries have expressed an urgent need for increased support on pollution management in order to respond to the magnitude of the threat to human health and economies. Responding to pollution is a challenge that is solvable in the near term to save lives and unlock economic opportunity through action at the local, national, regional and global levels.

The World Bank established a Multi-donor Trust Fund for Pollution Management and Environmental Health to promote more systematic and effective responses to deadly and costly air pollution.


PMEH was launched to provide increased support on pollution management in order to respond to the magnitude of the threat to human health and economic growth. PMEH focuses on air quality management, water pollution, and toxic sites management and currently operates in China, Egypt, India, Nigeria, South Africa and Vietnam.

An important feature of PMEH is to foster south-south collaboration: targeted and coordinated knowledge exchange and collaboration across implementing countries can improve pollution management and environmental health in low and middle income countries.

The program is backed by a multi-donor trust fund to achieve three objectives:

  1. Support developing countries to significantly reduce air, land and water pollution through pollution management planning and investment.
  2. Generate and share knowledge on pollution and its health impacts in urban, rural and marine areas.
  3. Promote awareness of PMEH issues among policymakers, business partners, city leaders, and the general public.

PMEH is supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety,  Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, and United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

PMEH operations in implementing countries are supported by the PMEH Secretariat in Washington, DC. The PMEH Secretariat coordinates between stakeholders, including between implementing countries and supporting countries; manages internal planning and reporting functions; and promotes global and technical cross-collaboration within the World Bank.



WHO estimates that around 7 million people die each year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air that lead to diseases such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and respiratory infections, including pneumonia. Furthermore, the economic burden of air pollution—in terms of both damage to health and loss of productivity—is immense for the world and for individual countries. Ambient particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution alone cost the global economy $5.7 trillion, or 4.8 percent, of global GDP in 2016. To combat this threat, PMEH has two interconnected goals. The first is to develop robust air quality management plans, driven by quality data, which will provide the basis for implementing projects that will reduce high levels of air pollutants in a cost-effective manner. The second is to simultaneously reduce short-term climate pollutants and levels of greenhouse gases. PMEH does so by including in its target pollutants several short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon—that have negative impacts on both human health and the global climate and by showing how reducing local air pollution also reduces climate pollutants.

Selected Projects: 

City-Scale Air Quality Management Planning in Vietnam

 Hanoi, Vietnam’s rapidly growing capital city, is working with the World Bank to simultaneously combat the issues of climate change and air pollution that come with such rapid development. The World Bank is supporting the Government of Vietnam and specifically the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, in the city of Hanoi and provinces of Bac Ninh and Hung Yen to improve the Air Quality Monitoring Network, and develop an understanding of emissions sources and development, to create a cost-effective, full-scale Air Quality Management (AQM) plan that can be implemented at the City level. PMEH is providing support for follow-up on the National Action Plan on Air Quality Management, and development of technical guidelines to strengthen regulatory enforcement. In 2017, PMEH and the government of Vietnam held a multi-sector Technical Workshop in Hanoi, where they presented the preliminary results of the Greenhouse gas–Air pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) model, which was developed by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Working with PMEH, IIASA is further developing the PMEH GAINS city model to allow for the analysis of cost-effective pollution abatement options at the city and regional/urban agglomeration levels.

Integrated Approach to Pollution Management for Lagos, Nigeria

 Little Green Data Book 2015 indicates that 94% of the Nigerian population is exposed to air pollution levels (measured in PM2.5) that exceed WHO guidelines, and that in 2015 air pollution damage cost about 1 percent of Gross National Income. The World Bank has a 10-year history of working to improve transportation in Lagos, through projects that are taking cars off the road and helping to make transportation more efficient, as well as to reduce transportation-based pollution, with 156,000 direct beneficiaries as of 2017. Now, PMEH, with the support of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Environment, is working with the Lagos State Ministries of Environment, Economic Planning and Budget, and Health as well as its Environmental Protection Agency to establish an Air Quality Monitoring and Particulate Matter Sampling Networks in Lagos, create a full-scale Air Quality management plan, and eventually develop multi-pollutant and multi-pathway control strategies that will integrate air quality management, contaminated and toxic site management, and integrated solid waste management. In 2017, PMEH held a first technical workshop to launch work on particulate matter sampling, air quality monitoring, source apportionment, and analysis of cost-effective emission control strategies.

Report: The Cost of Air Pollution in Lagos

Deploying cutting-edge satellite monitoring for Egypt

 There is a history of two decades of strong partnership in the fight against air pollution between the Egyptian Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) of the Ministry of Environment and World Bank. Egypt has developed the strongest Air Quality monitoring network on the African continent, with over 90 monitors, 45 of which are in the greater Cairo area. The Bank has worked with the ministry to complete a Source Apportionment Analysis, Policy Options Study, Cost of Environmental Degradation Study (COED), and a Health Impact Assessment. Due to rapid urbanization and growth, as well as environmental factors, challenges remain, so the EEAA and PMEH are taking an innovative approach to Air Quality Management.  In Cairo, PMEH experts are utilizing cutting-edge satellite and machine learning technology to quantify how the number of cars on the roads affects air quality, in order to make policy recommendations in the development of a full-scale Air Quality Management plan to be completed by 2021.

Report: Motor Vehicle Density and Air Pollution in Greater Cairo : Fuel Subsidy Removal and Metro Line Extension and Their Effect on Congestion and Pollution

Strengthening Approaches to Air Quality Management in South Africa

 PMEH is working with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, and Tshwane (Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area), towards the establishment of a Center of Excellence for air quality management at North-West University, as a regional knowledge-sharing and training hub, and further strengthening of the local ambient air quality monitoring network, particulate matter sampling, and lab facility to conduct chemical composition analysis. In 2017, PMEH experts visited to assess the local capacity for air quality monitoring, particulate matter sampling, and chemical composition analysis and to develop procurement recommendations.

Air Pollution Prevention and Control in Hebei, China, including Beijing

 Pollution management in the Hebei region is coordinated by the Hebei Pollution Prevention and Control Implementation Action Plan (HAP), which coordinates prevention and control of emissions of multi-pollutants from industrial enterprises and mobile sources, as well as strengthens area pollution control, establishes pollution warning systems and planning tools, promotes industrial transformation, and increases clean energy supply. In June 2016, the World Bank supported the program with a loan of US$500 million to reduce emissions of specific air pollutants in the key sectors in Hebei.

China’s National Program for Particulate Matter (PM) Reduction 

 China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection in cooperation with the World Bank prepared a report designing a national program for particulate matter reduction in all its 655 cities. Based upon report findings, in 2012, China’s State Council promulgated new air quality regulations that tightened the yearly average PM10 values from 100 to 70 µg/m3, and established new standards for PM2.5 of yearly average of 35µg/m3 (both standards meet WHO interim target standards). A timeline was set and all 655 cities developed plans to achieve these standards by January 2016.


PMEH is involved in three ongoing research projects:

Improving Air Quality Monitoring and Estimating Health Risks and Other Effects of Ambient Air Pollution in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

This research aims to strengthen knowledge and develop guidance that will help low- and middle-income countries generate reliable air quality monitoring data, such as can be used as a basis for the design, implementation, and enforcement of policies and actions to improve air quality management. Another goal is to test the application of satellite-derived air quality measurements and explore their use in countries where air quality monitoring networks are weak or non-existent. Finally, the research aims to generate knowledge about methodologies for estimating the health risks and effects of ambient air pollution, including a better understanding of health effects from exposure to particles from both natural sources and combustion processes.


Strengthening Air Quality Management in Accra, Ghana: Improved Pollution Management and Reduced Environmental Health Risk in Accra-Tema Metropolitan Area

The Global Health Cost of PM2.5 Air Pollution: A Case for Action Beyond 2021 

Getting Down to Earth: Are Satellites Reliable for Measuring Pollutants that Cause Mortality in Low- And Middle-Income Countries?

Are All Air Pollution Particles Equal? How Constituents and Sources of Fine Air Pollution Particles (PM2.5) Affect Health 

Opportunities and challenges for filling the air quality data gap in low-and middle-income countries

Evaluating the use of satellite observations to supplement ground-level air quality data in selected cities in low-and middle-income countries  

The Global Health Cost of Ambient PM2.5 Air Pollution

Multistakeholder technical workshops:

 The World Bank and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency jointly organized two technical workshops, Filling the Gaps: Improving Measurement of Air Quality in Developing Countries, in July and December 2017. More than 50 participants from low-, middle-, and high-income countries—representing governments, academic and research institutions, the private sector, and multilateral organizations— discussed and shared state-of-the-art knowledge about current practices and latest findings on air quality monitoring and on satellite and remote-sensing technologies.

Assessing the Health Impacts and Related Economic Impacts of Toxic Land Pollution

PMEH is working to close the knowledge gaps and lack of robust data that make assessing the health risks of toxic land pollution in low and middle-income countries difficult. To close these gaps, PMEH launched ongoing work on research methodologies that can assess both the health impacts and the related economic costs of toxic land pollution, along with mitigation and remediation options. The objective of this research is to improve existing methodologies and knowledge, and ultimately to support countries’ efforts to reduce people’s exposure to land-based toxic pollution and to develop proposals that can lead to remediation.

Reports and Papers:

When the Dust Settles: A Review of the Health Implications of the Dust Component of Air Pollution

Recycling of Used Lead-Acid Batteries: Guidelines for Appraisal of Environmental Health Impacts  

Artisanal Scale Gold Mining: A Framework for Collecting Site-Specific Sampling and Survey Data to Support Health-Impact Analyses  

Risk Analysis Approaches to Evaluating Health Impacts from Land-Based Pollution in low-and Middle-Income Countries


Pollution Management and the Development of Prosperous Cities

This research aims to investigate the linkage between environmental pollution and the prosperity and competitiveness of cities, providing new evidence of the impact of pollution on productivity and its economic implications in fast-growing cities in Africa and Asia. Through evidence-based case studies, the project will generate outputs ranging from academic publications to a tool that will support practical decisions by policy makers and urban planners.


Pollution Management and the Making of Prosperous Cities

Ghana Country Environmental Analysis


PMEH Annual Reports

PMEH Annual Report 2020

PMEH Annual Report 2019

PMEH Annual Report 2018

PMEH Annual Report 2017

PMEH Annual Report 2016

The World Bank on Pollution

Topic: Pollution

Research Papers

Strengthening Air Quality Management in Accra, Ghana: Improved Pollution Management and Reduced Environmental Health Risk in Accra-Tema Metropolitan Area

A Systematic Framework for Collecting Site- Specific Sampling and Survey Data to Support Analysis of Health Impacts from Land-Based Pollution in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

The Global Health Cost of Ambient PM2.5 Air Pollution

Risk Analysis Approaches to Evaluating Health Impacts from Land‐Based Pollution in Low‐ and Middle‐Income Countries

Opportunities and challenges for filling the air quality data gap in low-and middle-income countries (External product co-authored by World Bank Staff)

Arab Republic of Egypt - Cost of Environmental Degradation: Air and Water Pollution

Evaluating the use of satellite observations to supplement ground-level air quality data in selected cities in low-and middle-income countries (External product co-authored by World Bank Staff)

Opportunities for Environmentally Healthy, Inclusive and Resilient Growth in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

Ghana Country Environmental Analysis

The Effects of Pollution and Business Environment on Firm Productivity in Africa

Pollution Management and the Making of Prosperous Cities

The Cost of Air Pollution in Lagos

When the Dust Settles: A Review of the Health Implications of the Dust Component of Air Pollution

Estimating Global Mortality from Ambient Air Pollution

Getting Down to Earth: Are Satellites Reliable for Measuring Air Pollutants that Cause Mortality in Low-and Middle-Income Countries?

Economic Instruments and Financial Mechanisms for Adoption of a Circular Economy

Risk Analysis Approaches to Evaluating Health Impacts from Land-Based Pollution in low-and Middle-Income Countries (External product co-authored by World Bank Staff)

Policy notes on managing pesticides for greener growth in Lao PDR

Drivers and Health Impacts of Ambient Air Pollution in Slovakia

Does Pollution Hinder Urban Competitiveness?

Other Related Reports and Papers

The Cost of Air Pollution: Strengthening the Economic Cause for Action

The Little Green Data Book 2017


Clean air and poverty

Lead poisoning and children

Eradicating household air pollution will pay for itself

All I need is the air that I breathe

Access to quality information is crucial to tackle Peru’s environmental problems

Feature Stories

Helping China Fight Air Pollution

Air Pollution Deaths Cost Global Economy 225 billion

World Bank to Support China’s War on Air Pollution

Understanding Air Pollution and the Way it is Measured

New Little Green Data Book Paints Striking Picture of Pollution

Clean Air and Healthy Lungs: How to Better Tackle Air Pollution

A plea for Action Against Pollution in Nigeria

Cleaner Bricks for Better Air in Dhaka


Infographic: Death in the Air: Air Pollution Costs Money and Lives


Green Growth for Sustainable Development

Helping China Fight Air Pollution


This course has been created for development professionals, government officials and other partners who want to learn about the fundamentals of air quality management planning.
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