A new report by IQAir, a company that monitors air quality worldwide, revealed that only 13 countries and territories had “healthy” air quality in 2022.
The report found that air pollution levels in 90% of the countries and territories analyzed exceeded the guidelines set by the World Health Organization to protect public health and aid governments in crafting regulations.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the potential health hazards associated with particles are directly related to their size. The agency states that particles with a diameter of less than ten micrometers are particularly concerning as they can penetrate deep into the lungs and even enter the bloodstream.
IQAir reported that in the previous year, African and Central and South Asian countries and territories had the highest average yearly concentration of PM2.5 particles per population.
List of countries with healthy Air Quality
- French Polynesia,
- New Caledonia,
- New Zealand,
- Puerto Rico,
- Sint Eustatius
- U.S. Virgin Islands
The New York State Department of Health explains that PM2.5, a type of fine particulate matter, is an air pollutant that can have adverse effects on human health when its concentration levels are high.
Additionally, high levels of PM2.5 can reduce visibility and create a hazy appearance in the air, as stated by the department.
Air pollution guidelines
A recent study focused on PM2.5, which is the smallest and most hazardous pollutant. PM2.5 particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and even enter the bloodstream, leading to a range of health problems such as respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and asthma. The sources of PM2.5 include fossil fuel combustion, wildfires, and dust storms.
In September 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its annual air pollution guidelines, reducing the acceptable level of fine particulate matter from 10 to 5 micrograms per cubic meter.
Air pollution is responsible for millions of deaths each year, with around 4.2 million premature deaths linked to PM2.5 in 2016, according to the United Nations (UN) agency.
WHO estimates that if the new guidelines had been in place in 2016, the number of pollution-related deaths could have been reduced by nearly 3.3 million.
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