Commuters make their way along a street in smoggy and foggy conditions early in the morning in Lahore on January 3, 2023.
Arif Ali | AFP | Getty Images
According to a new report by the Swiss air quality technology company IQAir, around 90% of the world’s population in 2022 suffered from poor air quality, and only six countries met the Organization’s recommendations. World Health Organization on safe levels of air pollutants.
IQAir measured air quality levels based on the concentration of airborne particles harmful to the lungs, known as PM 2.5. Research shows that exposure to such particulate matter can lead to heart attacks, asthma attacks and premature death. Studies have also linked long-term exposure to PM 2.5 to higher death rates of Covid-19.
When the WHO first issued air quality guidelines in 2005, it said acceptable levels of air pollution were below 10 micrograms per cubic meter. In 2021, the WHO changed its reference guidelines to less than 5 micrograms per cubic meter.
The report found that the five most polluted countries in 2022 were Chad, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain and Bangladesh. The most polluted cities in the world were Lahore, Pakistan; Hotan, China; Bhiwadi, India; Delhi, India; and Peshawar, Pakistan.
Lahore’s air quality deteriorated to 97.4 micrograms of PM 2.5 particles per cubic meter in 2022 from 86.5 the previous year, making it the most polluted city in the world.
The report also states that India and Pakistan suffered the worst air quality in the Central and South Asia region, where more than half of the population resides in areas with PM concentration. 2.5 is about seven times higher than the levels suggested by the WHO.
In the United States, the most polluted major cities were Columbus, Ohio, followed by Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis and Dallas. Air quality in Columbus reached 13.1 micrograms of PM 2.5 particles per cubic meter in 2020, making it the most polluted major city in the United States.
The Biden administration proposed this year to limit fine particle pollution from industrial soot from the current annual level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to between 9 and 10 micrograms per cubic meter. Some public health advocates have criticized this proposal as not going far enough.
Only six countries have met the WHO’s updated health limits: Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland and New Zealand, according to the report. The 2022 report used air quality data from more than 30,000 regulatory air quality monitoring stations and air quality sensors from 7,323 cities in 131 countries, regions and regions. territories.
Air pollution reduces the world’s average life expectancy by more than two years, according the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Sixty percent of particulate air pollution comes from burning fossil fuels.
“Too many people around the world don’t know they’re breathing polluted air,” Aidan Farrow, senior air quality scientist at Greenpeace International, said in a statement.
“Air pollution monitors provide actionable data that can inspire communities to demand change and hold polluters to account, but when monitoring is spotty or patchy, vulnerable communities can be left without data to act on. “, said Farrow.