How will air quality effects on human health, crops and ecosystems change in the future?

Erika Von Schneidemesser, Charles Driscoll, Harald E. Rieder, Luke D. Schiferl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Future air quality will be driven by changes in air pollutant emissions, but also changes in climate. Here, we review the recent literature on future air quality scenarios and projected changes in effects on human health, crops and ecosystems. While there is overlap in the scenarios and models used for future projections of air quality and climate effects on human health and crops, similar efforts have not been widely conducted for ecosystems. Few studies have conducted joint assessments across more than one sector. Improvements in future air quality effects on human health are seen in emission reduction scenarios that are more ambitious than current legislation. Larger impacts result from changing particulate matter (PM) abundances than ozone burdens. Future global health burdens are dominated by changes in the Asian region. Expected future reductions in ozone outside of Asia will allow for increased crop production. Reductions in PM, although associated with much higher uncertainty, could offset some of this benefit. The responses of ecosystems to air pollution and climate change are long-term, complex, and interactive, and vary widely across biomes and over space and time. Air quality and climate policy should be linked or at least considered holistically, and managed as a multi-media problem. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Air quality, past present and future'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20190330
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2183
StatePublished - Oct 30 2020


  • air pollution
  • food security
  • future climate projections
  • health and ecosystem effects
  • ozone
  • particulate matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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