PD2 - The impact of air pollution on respiratory health and vulnerability to COVID-19. What can community pharmacists do to help?

FIP HQ in partnership with The Clean Breathing Institute


Lars-Åke Söderlund, Apoteket AB, Sweden


In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed air pollution and climate change as one of the top ten threats to global health. According to WHO, air pollution is the greatest environmental risk to health, with 9 out of 10 people breathing in polluted air every day. 

Microscopic pollutants in the air can penetrate respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and brain and kill seven million people each year prematurely from diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart and lung disease.

Air pollution also makes people more vulnerable to infectious respiratory diseases and the effects of outbreaks and pandemics, as well as more severe forms of those conditions, due to its effect on immune response.

In May 2020, 40 million health professionals from 90 countries wrote to the G20, highlighting the impact of air pollution on respiratory and overall health, calling for a #healthrecovery from Covid-19. 

They have been supported by the WHO, who later released a manifesto for a healthy recovery from Covid-19, calling for urgent action to ensure clean air for all.

However, the journey to clean air for all is a long and complex one. To ensure an effective recovery from Covid-19 as quickly as possible, immediate strategies are needed to help protect and support respiratory health, especially in vulnerable populations.

In particular, there is an evolving role for community pharmacists, not only in reactive respiratory illness, but also in proactive individual and community respiratory wellness. Community pharmacists are key to respiratory health particularly in supporting better breathing and activating both practical change and self-care amongst patients in their communities.

This event is supported through an educational grant from The Clean Breathing Institute, a scientific collaborative Initiative of Consumer HealthCare


  1. Introduction
    Moderator: Lars-Åke Söderlund, President, FIP Community Pharmacy Section
  2. Air pollution and immune response to infectious disease
    Glenis Kathleen Scadding, MA, MD, FRCP – Honorary Consultant Physician Royal National ENT Hospital, London and an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Clinical Immunology at the University College London School of Medicine, UK
  1. Presentation of key findings from FIP’s survey on “Air Pollution and Respiratory Health: awareness and roles of community pharmacists”
    Gonçalo Sousa Pinto, FIP Lead for Practice Development and Transformation 
  1. Tools to support pharmacy practice in the field of respiratory health
    Sundeep Santosh Salvi, Pulmocare Research and Education (PURE) Foundation Research Foundation, India 
  1. Panel discussion and questions from the audience 
  1. Wrap-up and take-home messages (Moderator) 

Learning Objectives

After this webinar the participants should have a better understanding of the following topics: 

  1. The impact of air pollution on the immune response to infectious disease 
  2. What are the gaps in terms of knowledge, tools and policy to support the roles of community pharmacists in this area?
  3. Which tools can better support pharmacy practice in the field of respiratory health?