Only 7 Nations Meet WHO Air Quality Standards: IQAir Report

Only 7 Nations Meet WHO Air Quality Standards: IQAir Report

Air pollution continues to pose a global health threat, with only seven countries meeting the World Health Organization's air quality standards, according to a recent report by IQAir, a Swiss air quality organization. The report, which surveyed 134 countries and regions, revealed that the majority of nations are failing to meet the WHO guideline limit for PM2.5 particles, tiny airborne pollutants emitted by vehicles, industries, and wildfires.

PM2.5 particles, smaller than the width of a human hair, are notorious for their adverse health effects when inhaled. These microscopic particles can lead to various health problems, including respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular diseases. Despite significant improvements in air quality over the past century, many areas still suffer from dangerously high levels of pollution.

Among the seven countries meeting the WHO standard are Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius, and New Zealand. These nations have implemented measures to reduce emissions from vehicles and industries, resulting in cleaner air for their populations. However, the rest of the world faces challenges in tackling air pollution, with some countries experiencing worsening pollution levels due to economic activities and wildfires.

According to the IQAir report, Pakistan ranks as the most polluted country, with PM2.5 levels more than 14 times higher than the WHO standard. India, Tajikistan, and Burkina Faso follow closely behind as some of the most polluted countries globally. Even in countries known for their relatively clean air, such as Canada, wildfires have led to a deterioration in air quality, underscoring the global impact of environmental disasters.

In China, efforts to improve air quality were hindered by a rebound in economic activity following the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to a 6.5% increase in PM2.5 levels. Despite these setbacks, experts emphasize the importance of prioritizing clean energy and sustainable practices to combat air pollution effectively.

Glory Dolphin Hammes, North America chief executive of IQAir, highlighted the urgent need for action to address air pollution's detrimental effects on public health. She emphasized the importance of making cities more walkable and reducing reliance on cars, as well as implementing cleaner energy sources to mitigate emissions.

Furthermore, Hammes stressed the need for international cooperation to tackle air pollution, as the effects of pollution extend beyond national borders. Countries must work together to address common environmental challenges and ensure a healthier future for all.

Aidan Farrow, senior air quality scientist at Greenpeace International, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of better air quality monitoring and the implementation of existing solutions to combat pollution effectively. He emphasized that air pollution remains a global health crisis, with far-reaching consequences for public health and environmental justice.

The WHO recently revised its guideline for "safe" PM2.5 levels to five micrograms per cubic meter, reflecting growing concerns about the health risks associated with air pollution. However, research indicates that even low levels of PM2.5 exposure can have adverse health effects, highlighting the need for more stringent regulations and proactive measures to protect public health.

In conclusion, air pollution continues to pose a significant threat to public health worldwide, with only a handful of countries meeting the WHO's air quality standards. Urgent action is needed to reduce emissions from vehicles, industries, and wildfires, as well as to promote cleaner energy sources and sustainable practices. By prioritizing environmental health and international cooperation, we can work towards a cleaner and healthier future for all.

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