Air pollution, a major environmental risk factor, has substantial toxicological implications for human health, leading to a significant global disease burden. A recent study underlines this concern, indicating that outdoor air pollution, including from the combustion of fossil fuels, contributed to 8.7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2018. This staggering figure equates to one in every five fatalities that occurred that year. By region, the largest burden of disease related to air pollution is found in Western Pacific and Southeast Asia, due to heavy industry and air pollution hotspots in the developing nations of those regions. Developed countries also suffer from mortality and morbidity due to air pollution.

Climate forecasts predict the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME) region will face amplified warming, drying, and frequent extreme heat events, leading to increasing health risks. High regional air pollution and lower precipitation will stress the area further. Intense urbanization in EMME could exacerbate air and water pollution, with altered land use and dwindling water resources intensifying soil degradation and dust emissions. 

Research from the Weizmann Institute highlights that dust can transport pollutants, pathogens, and various microorganisms, contributing to air quality deterioration. Moreover, the region's hot and dry conditions could boost wildfires, working in synergy with urban air pollution and dust to exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

At the Center for Environment and Health, researchers are working on a wide range of studies focused on the health effects induced by climate change, high levels of air pollution and mineral dust, and poor water quality. This includes studies on the effects of water pollution, the exposure of lung cells and animal models to particles, and the transport of bacteria, fungi and viruses by dust to better understand the spread of pathogens that affect human, ecosystems, and agricultural crops.

For more info about the Center for Environment & Health, please watch this short video.

Research Groups

Prof. Yinon Rudich

Head, Center for Environment and Health

Read more about Prof. Yinon Rudich

Prof. Brian Berkowitz

Read more about Prof. Brian Berkowitz

Dr. David Zeevi

Read more about Dr. David Zeevi

Prof. Gad Asher

Read more about Prof. Gad Asher

Prof. Eran Segal

Read more about Prof. Eran Segal

Prof. Neta Regev-Rudzki

Read more about Prof. Neta Regev-Rudzki