Only 13 countries and regions achieved normal air quality standards last year: report

The target air quality of PM2.5 is five micrograms per cubic meter or less.

Only 13 countries, territories and regions worldwide met World Health Organization guidelines for healthy air quality last year, according to a new report from Swiss technology company IQAir.

The company, which has partnered with the United Nations Environment Program, UN-Habitat and Greenpeace to combat air pollution, examined air data from more than 30,000 stations and sensors that monitor the air quality of 7,323 cities in 131 countries, regions and territories.

According to the report, Australia, Bermuda, Bonaire, Estonia, Finland, French Polynesia, Grenada, Guam, Iceland, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Sint Eustatius and Saba and the US Virgin Islands have all achieved air quality targets. guidelines of PM2.5, or five micrograms per cubic meter or less.

PM2.5 is a particulate matter that is an air pollutant that can harm people’s health when levels are high, according to the New York State Department of Health.

When high, those particles can reduce vision and make the sky blurry, according to the NYS Department of Health.

“The size of particles is directly related to their potential to cause health problems,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “Small particles less than 10 microns in diameter are the biggest problems because they can penetrate deep into your lungs and some can even enter your bloodstream.”

According to IQAir, countries and territories in Africa and Central and South Asia had the highest annual average PM2.5 concentrations per capita last year.

Chad has the highest concentration of PM2.5, at 89.7 micrograms per cubic meter; followed by Iraq with 80.1; and Pakistan with 70.9, according to the report.

Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Kuwait, India, Egypt and Tajikistan make up the rest of the report’s top 10 most polluted countries.

Despite the growth in recent years, obtaining air quality data in Africa has remained a problem. According to the report, only 19 of the continent’s 54 countries had the necessary data available.

According to the report, 118 countries, or about 90%, failed to meet air quality guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization.

WHO’s air quality guidelines, implemented in 2021, have been created for governments around the world to use as goals to reduce air pollution and ultimately improve people’s health, the organization said.

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