LatestCountries Meet Air Quality Standards are Only Seven: Report Finds

Countries Meet Air Quality Standards are Only Seven: Report Finds

According to recent research, only seven countries are meeting the international standard for air quality, and hazardous pollution is getting worse in many areas as a result of wildfires and economic recoveries.

Only a small number of the 134 nations and regions evaluated—Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius, and New Zealand—met the PM2.5 guideline limit set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is related to several health problems and mortality.

According to IQAir’s assessment, the vast majority of countries are not meeting this benchmark for air quality. More than 30,000 monitoring stations across the world provide data to IQAir. When inhaled, PM2.5—less than the width of a human hair—causes serious health issues and is released by industrial operations and vehicles.

Even while the quality of the air has generally improved over the previous century, some places are still very dangerous. With PM2.5 levels that are 14 times higher than the WHO limit, Pakistan tops the rankings in this regard. Burkina Faso, Tajikistan, and India are not far behind.

The post-pandemic economic recovery in China also hindered the country’s efforts to improve air quality, as seen by the report’s 6.5% increase in PM2.5 levels.

“Unfortunately, there’s been a regression,” IQAir’s North American CEO, Glory Dolphin Hammes, stated. “The effects of air pollution well-established by science, but we’ve grown acclimated to dangerous background levels. Not enough changes made quickly enough.

An estimated 7 million deaths globally attributed to air pollution, more than the combined deaths toll from AIDS and malaria combined. The burden falls disproportionately on developing nations that use dirty fuels for cooking, lighting, and heating.

In 2023, Begusarai, India, named the most polluted urban region globally by the sixth annual IQAir survey. Four of the most polluted cities in the world are located in India. Reliable data on air quality are notably lacking in a large portion of the developing world, especially in Africa.

In 2021, the WHO reduced the recommended threshold for “safe” PM2.5 levels to five micrograms per cubic meter. Even nations like those in Europe, whose air quality has greatly improved in recent decades, fall short by this tighter criterion.

There may not a completely safe level of PM2.5 exposure, according to recent research by US scientists, as even low levels have connected to an increase in hospitalizations for asthma and heart disease.

Hammes recommends actions such as encouraging walkable communities, changing forestry methods to reduce smoke from wildfires, and quickening the switch from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. “We share the atmosphere globally, and we must ensure our actions don’t harm others,” she stated.

Greenpeace International’s senior air quality scientist, Aidan Farrow, emphasized the need for improved air quality monitoring. “Air pollution remains a global health crisis,” Farrow said. “IQAir’s data highlights the resulting injustices and the need to implement existing solutions to this problem.”

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