November 30, 2022

IQAir report shows the best and worst places for air quality in 2021

4 min read


Of the 6,475 cities analyzed, only 222 had average air quality that met WHO standards. Three territories were found to be in compliance with WHO guidelines: the French territory of New Caledonia and the United States territory of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were among the countries with the worst air pollution, at least 10 times higher than the guidelines.

The Scandinavian countries, Australia, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom were ranked among the best in terms of air quality, with an average level of 1 to 2 times higher than the guidelines.

In the United States, IQAir found that air pollution in 2021 is 2 to 3 times higher than WHO guidelines.

“This report underscores the need for governments around the world to help reduce global air pollution,” IQAir North America CEO Glory Dolphin Hems told CNN. “(Fine particles) kill a lot of people every year and governments need to tighten national air quality standards and find better foreign policies that promote better air quality.”

Above: IQAir analyzed average annual air quality for more than 6,000 cities and rated them as the best air quality, from blue (similar to WHO PM2.5 guildline) to worst, purple (WHO PM2.5). 10 times higher than the guideline). One Interactive map Available from IQAir.
This is the first major global air quality report based on the new WHO. Annual Air Pollution GuidelinesWho were Updated September 2021.. The new guidelines reduce the acceptable concentration of fine particles – or PM 2.5 – from 10 to 5 micrograms per cubic meter.
PM 2.5 is the smallest contaminant but still the most dangerous. When inhaled, it travels deep into the lung tissue where it can enter the bloodstream. It comes from sources such as fossil fuel burns, dust storms and wildfires, and is associated with a number of health hazards. Asthma, Heart disease And other respiratory diseases.
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Millions of people die every year from air quality problems. In 2016, around 4.2 million premature deaths According to the WHO, they were associated with fine particles. If the 2021 guidelines had been applied this year, the WHO found that pollution-related deaths could have been reduced by about 3.3 million.

IQAir analyzed pollution monitoring stations in 6,475 cities in 117 countries, territories and territories.

In the United States, air pollution increased in 2021 compared to 2020. More than 2,400 US cities Analyzed, Los Angeles air remained the most polluted, despite a 6% decline compared to 2020. Atlanta and Minneapolis saw Significant increase In pollution, the report shows.

The authors wrote, “The (US) reliance on fossil fuels, along with the increasing intensity of wildfires, as well as various enforcement of the Clean Air Act from administration to administration, has increased US air pollution,” the authors wrote.

Researchers say that the main sources of pollution in the United States were fossil fuel-powered transportation, energy production and forest fires, which wreak havoc on the country’s most vulnerable and backward communities.

“We rely heavily on fossil fuels, especially transportation,” said Hams, who lives a few miles from Los Angeles. “We can work on it with zero emissions, but we’re still not doing that. And it’s having a devastating effect on the air pollution we’re seeing in big cities.”

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Wildfires caused by climate change have played a key role in reducing air quality in the United States in 2021. The authors point to a number of fires that have caused dangerous air pollution – including the Caldor and Dickey fires in California, as well as the Bootleg fire. Oregon, Joe Smoke billowed from the east coast. In July.
China – one of the worst-polluted countries in the world – improved its air quality in 2021. More than half of the Chinese cities analyzed in the report had lower levels of air pollution than last year. According to the report, the five-year trend of improving air quality in the capital Beijing continued. Policy-based reduction Of polluting industries in the city
The report also found that Amazon rain forestOne of the world’s biggest protectors against climate change, it emitted more carbon dioxide than it absorbed last year. Deforestation And Forest fire It has endangered important ecosystems, polluted the air and contributed to climate change.

“It’s all part of the formula that will lead to or is leading to global warming.” Hemes said.

The report also reveals some inequalities: Monitoring stations are scarce in Africa, South America and some developing countries in the Middle East, resulting in a lack of air quality data in those regions.

“When you don’t have that data, you’re really in the dark,” Hemes said.

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Hems noted that the African country of Chad has been included in the report for the first time due to improvements in its monitoring network. IQAir found that the country’s air pollution was second only to Bangladesh in the world last year.

Tariq Benmarhania, a climate change expert at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who has studied the health effects of forest fire fumes, also noted that reliance on monitoring stations alone could lead to blind spots in these reports. Is.

“I think it’s great that they relied on different networks and not just official sources,” Benmarhania, who was not included in the report, told CNN. “However, in many areas there are not enough stations and alternative techniques are available.”

UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Concluded in its 2021 report. That, in addition to slowing global warming, stopping the use of fossil fuels will have the added benefit of improving air quality and public health.

Hemes said the IQAir report is an even greater reason for the world to get rid of fossil fuels.

“We’ve got the report, we can read it, we can internalize it and really dedicate ourselves to taking action,” he said. “We need to take a big step towards renewable energy. We need to take strong action to reverse the tide of global warming; otherwise, the impact and the train on us will be irreversible.”



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