According to a recent analysis that analyses real-time air purity data from tens of thousands of observation stations, tens of millions of individuals across the world are inhaling bad air that well exceeds health limits, and changing climate is rendering pollution harsher.
Particulate matter or PM2.5 with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less, is found in car exhaust, desert dust storms, power plant emissions, and smoke from kitchen burners and forest fires. Exposure to PM2.5 has been linked to lung and heart problems, as well as seven million early deaths per year, according to scientists.
The World Health Organization announced guidance in 2021 September that reduced allowable yearly PM2.5 emissions to 5 micrograms per cubic metre of air. According to a survey issued Tuesday by IQAir, a Swiss firm that develops air quality sensors and air cleaning systems, no country met that stringent criterion in 2021.
According to an associate professor at George Washington University, Susan Anenberg who researches the relationship between climate change and air pollution, achieving the WHO standard will be exceedingly challenging. She had nothing to do with the air quality report's creation.
The data IQAir obtained last year from official air surveillance stations as well as those maintained by private groups and individuals in 6,475 cities across 117 nations exemplified this difficulty. Only 222 cities fulfilled the WHO goal, while exposure in 93 cities exceeded the threshold by ten times.
With PM2.5 values of 76.9 micrograms per cubic metre, Bangladesh's air was listed as the world's highest polluted in 2021, according to the research. According to the report, South Asia and Central had some of the worst air quality in the world, with 46 of the top 50 greatest polluted places.
New Caledonia, A South Pacific island country, had the cleanest air which is 3.8, while Finland had the minimum PM2.5 value among wealthy countries which is 5.5.
In the US, levels were 10.3 per cent. The United States guideline for PM2.5 contamination is 12 micrograms per cubic metre, according to Annenberg. She mentioned that a panel of the United States Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed that acceptable pollutants be reduced to between 8 and 10 micrograms per cubic metre.
The analysis finds a substantial gap in the accessibility of air quality statistics, with few surveillance stations identified in Central America, Africa, and Latin America, according to Glory Dolphin Hammes, CEO of IQAir North America. Chad would be the second most polluted nation in 2021, according to her, and these statistics wasn't even accessible the previous year. This demonstrates that they must do more to address the data gap for pollution levels in these neglected regions with high levels of air pollution.
Climate change, according to Annenberg, is exacerbating these equality challenges. She claims that even meeting the present PM2.5 criteria is becoming more difficult as a result of climate change. Climate change is causing greater wildfires, more smoke, and drier weather in some areas, which is causing dust to be engulfed in the air.
Initiatives to cut greenhouse gas output by substituting fossil-fuel cars and power plants, on the other hand, would enhance air quality. Although Vietnam's PM2.5 level was 24.7 in 2021, the researchers observed that the country has created Southeast Asia's largest solar facility and is utilising offshore wind power.