Commuters make their way along a street amid smoggy and foggy conditions early within the morning in Lahore on January 3, 2023.
Arif Ali | AFP | Getty Images
About 90% of the worldwide population in 2022 experienced unhealthy air quality, and only six countries met the World Health Organization’s recommendations of secure air pollutant levels, in response to a latest report from Swiss air quality technology company IQAir.
IQAir measured air quality levels based on the concentration of lung-damaging airborne particles referred to as PM 2.5. Research shows that exposure to such particulate matter can result in heart attacks, asthma attacks and premature death. Studies have also linked long-term exposure to PM 2.5 with higher rates of death from Covid-19.
When the WHO first published air quality guidance in 2005, it said the suitable levels of air pollution were lower than 10 micrograms per cubic meter. In 2021, the WHO modified its benchmark guidelines to below 5 micrograms per cubic meter.
The report found that the highest five most polluted countries in 2022 were Chad, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain and Bangladesh. Essentially the most polluted cities globally were Lahore, Pakistan; Hotan, China; Bhiwadi, India; Delhi, India; and Peshawar, Pakistan.
Lahore’s air quality worsened to 97.4 micrograms of PM 2.5 particles per cubic meter in 2022 from 86.5 within the yr prior, making it probably the most polluted city on the planet.
The report also said India and Pakistan endured the worst air quality within the Central and South Asian region, where greater than half of the population resides in areas where the concentration of PM 2.5 particles is about seven times higher than WHO’s suggested levels.
Within the U.S., probably the most polluted major cities were Columbus, Ohio, followed by Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis and Dallas. Air quality in Columbus hit 13.1 micrograms of PM 2.5 particles per cubic meter in 202, making it probably the most polluted major city within the U.S.
The Biden administration this yr proposed limiting pollution of business superb soot particles from the present annual level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to a level between 9 and 10 micrograms per cubic meter. Some public health advocates criticized that proposal as not going far enough.
Only six countries met the WHO’s updated health limits: Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland and Latest Zealand, the report said. The 2022 report used air quality data from greater than 30,000 regulatory air quality monitoring stations and air quality sensors from 7,323 cities across 131 countries, regions and territories.
Air pollution takes greater than two years off the common global life expectancy, in response to the Energy Policy Institute on the University of Chicago. Sixty percent of particulate matter air pollution comes from fossil fuel combustion.
“Too many individuals all over the world do not know that they’re respiration polluted air,” Aidan Farrow, senior air quality scientist at Greenpeace International, said in a press release.
“Air pollution monitors provide hard data that may encourage communities to demand change and hold polluters to account, but when monitoring is patchy or unequal, vulnerable communities might be left with no data to act on,” Farrow said.
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