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Air Pollution: Global Health Histories Seminar 94

Friday 20 November 2015, 12.30PM

Speaker(s): Professor Melanie DuPuis (Pace University, USA) & Dr Carlos Dora (WHO)

Broadcast live over the internet, via webinar. To register, please use this link and follow the instructions:

On the surface, the histories of diet and air pollution seem to have little in common. The historical narrative of diet is of decline: we used to eat better, now we eat badly. On the other hand, at least in higher-income, western industrialized countries, the history of smog has been one of progress: less smoke, cleaner air for everyone. However, environmental decision makers are now facing air pollution –and climate change- issues that will involve the kinds of complex political decision making that states have until now avoided: changing individual behaviour. For more than a century, US state officials have tried to get American citizens to change their eating habits. Professor DuPuis’s presentation will consider what this history can tell us about moving people toward more sustainable lifestyles.

Dr. Dora will discuss the recent evolution of the medical knowledge about the health impacts of air pollution– now known to include very significant cardiovascular disease and cancers, as well as respiratory diseases. He also will discuss the global leadership role WHO is playing, which has accelerated in the wake of the May 2015 World Health Assembly approval of a resolution on Air Pollution and Health. He will describe what health ministries can do to combat air pollution-related disease, including: use of guidelines and tools for assessing air pollution-related exposure and disease impacts; assessment of policies in other sectors (e.g. transport); economic assessment; and communications/advocacy.

Part of the World Health Organization Global Health Histories Seminar series. Presented in association with the University of York's Department of History and supported by the Wellcome Trust. Please visit the World Health Organisation's website for more information on the Global Health Histories seminar series. Archives of past presentations, including audio files of many seminars, are available via the WHO’s and Centre for Global Health Histories’ websites.

Location: WHO Library, Geneva, Switzerland

Admission: Broadcast live over the internet, via webinar. To register send an email to