Researchers believe tiny man-made particles, such as those produced by car exhausts, could have an influence on the severity of future heatwaves.
A computerised model was used by scientists from the University of Edinburgh to carry out research on the impact of particles in the atmosphere.
They concluded that cutting air pollution could inadvertently make heatwaves worse in some parts of the world.
This could happen by disrupting the formation of clouds that reflect heat from the sun back into space.
The researchers suggest this would cause peak day-time temperatures to increase.
Heatwaves in the northern hemisphere would be more likely to be affected because of widespread efforts to improve poor air quality in countries within that region.
Professor David Stevenson, of the University of Edinburgh, said: "We desperately need to improve air quality.
"However, our results suggest that in doing so, we may inadvertently worsen heatwaves. Air pollution and climate change are inextricably linked and we need to develop smart pollution control policies that take these links into account."