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


Air air pollution spiked to unhealthy ranges all over the world in 2021, in keeping with a brand new report.

The report by IQAir, an organization that tracks international air high quality, discovered that common annual air air pollution in each nation — and 97% of cities — exceeded the World Well being Group’s air high quality tips, which had been designed to assist governments craft rules to guard public well being.

Solely 222 cities of the 6,475 analyzed had common air high quality that met WHO’s customary. Three territories had been discovered to have met WHO tips: the French territory of New Caledonia and america territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh had been among the many international locations with the worst air air pollution, exceeding the rules by at the least 10 instances.

The Scandinavian international locations, Australia, Canada, Japan and United Kingdom ranked among the many greatest international locations for air high quality, with common ranges that exceeded the rules by 1 to 2 instances.

In america, IQAir discovered air air pollution exceeded WHO tips by 2 to three instances in 2021.

“This report underscores the necessity for governments all over the world to assist scale back international air air pollution,” Glory Dolphin Hammes, CEO of IQAir North America, advised CNN. “(Effective particulate matter) kills far too many individuals yearly and governments have to set extra stringent air high quality nationwide requirements and discover higher overseas insurance policies that promote higher air high quality.”


Above: IQAir analyzed common annual air high quality for greater than 6,000 cities and categorized them from greatest air high quality, in blue (Meets WHO PM2.5 guildline) to worst, in purple (Exceeds WHO PM2.5 guideline by over 10 instances). An interactive map is on the market from IQAir.

It’s the primary main international air high quality report primarily based on WHO’s new annual air pollution guidelines, which had been up to date in September 2021. The brand new tips halved the appropriate focus of fantastic particulate matter — or PM 2.5 — from 10 down to five micrograms per cubic meter.

PM 2.5 is the tiniest pollutant but additionally among the many most harmful. When inhaled, it travels deep into lung tissue the place it will probably enter the bloodstream. It comes from sources just like the burning of fossil fuels, mud storms and wildfires, and has been linked to various well being threats together with asthma, heart disease and different respiratory sicknesses.

Thousands and thousands of individuals die annually from air high quality points. In 2016, round 4.2 million premature deaths had been related to fantastic particulate matter, in keeping with WHO. If the 2021 tips had been utilized that yr, WHO discovered there might have been practically 3.3 million fewer pollution-related deaths.

IQAir analyzed pollution-monitoring stations in 6,475 cities throughout 117 international locations, areas and territories.

Within the US, air air pollution spiked in 2021 in comparison with 2020. Out of the more than 2,400 US cities analyzed, Los Angeles air remained probably the most polluted, regardless of seeing a 6% lower in comparison with 2020. Atlanta and Minneapolis noticed significant increases in air pollution, the report confirmed.

“The (United States’) reliance on fossil fuels, growing severity of wildfires in addition to various enforcement of the Clear Air Act from administration to administration have all added to U.S. air air pollution,” the authors wrote.

Researchers say the principle sources of air pollution within the US had been fossil fuel-powered transportation, vitality manufacturing and wildfires, which wreak havoc on the nation’s most susceptible and marginalized communities.

“We’re closely depending on fossil fuels, particularly when it comes to transportation,” stated Hammes, who lives a number of miles from Los Angeles. “We will act well on this with zero emissions, however we’re nonetheless not doing it. And that is having a devastating affect on the air air pollution that we’re seeing in main cities.”

Local weather change-fueled wildfires performed a big function in lowering air high quality within the US in 2021. The authors pointed to various fires that led to hazardous air air pollution — together with the Caldor and Dixie fires in California, in addition to the Bootleg Fireplace in Oregon, which wafted smoke all the best way to the East Coast in July.

China — which is among the many international locations with the worst air air pollution — confirmed improved air high quality in 2021. Greater than half of the Chinese language cities analyzed within the report noticed decrease ranges of air air pollution in comparison with the earlier yr. The capital metropolis of Beijing continued a five-year development of improved air high quality, in keeping with the report, as a result of a policy-driven drawdown of polluting industries within the metropolis.

The report additionally discovered that the Amazon Rainforest, which had acted because the world’s main defender in opposition to the local weather disaster, emitted extra carbon dioxide than it absorbed final yr. Deforestation and wildfires have threatened the important ecosystem, polluted the air and contributed to local weather change.

“That is all part of the method that can result in or is resulting in international warming.” Hammes stated.

The report additionally unveiled some inequalities: Monitoring stations stay scant in some creating international locations in Africa, South America and the Center East, leading to a dearth of air high quality knowledge in these areas.

“Once you don’t have that knowledge, you’re actually at the hours of darkness,” Hammes stated.

Hammes famous the African nation of Chad was included within the report for the primary time, as a result of an enchancment in its monitoring community. IQAir discovered the nation’s air air pollution was the second-highest on the earth final yr, behind Bangladesh.

Tarik Benmarhnia, a local weather change epidemiologist at Scripps Establishment of Oceanography who has studied the well being affect of wildfire smoke, additionally famous that relying solely on monitoring stations can result in blind spots in these stories.

“I believe it’s nice that they relied on completely different networks and never solely governmental sources,” Benmarhnia, who was not concerned on this report, advised CNN. “Nonetheless, many areas wouldn’t have sufficient stations and different methods exist.”

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change concluded in its 2021 report that, along with slowing the velocity of world warming, curbing using fossil fuels would have the additional benefit of enhancing air high quality and public well being.

Hammes stated the IQAir report is much more cause for the world to wean off fossil gasoline.

“We’ve obtained the report, we will learn it, we will internalize it and actually commit ourselves to taking motion,” she stated. “There must be a significant transfer in direction of renewable vitality. We have to take drastic motion with a purpose to reverse the tide of world warming; in any other case, the affect and the practice that we’re on (could be) irreversible.”

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