Fifth annual assessment of air pollution ranks cities, nations and regions around the world

The study confirmed that only six countries met the World Health Organization’s (WHO) updated safe levels of the deadly air pollutant, particulate matter (PM) 2.5.

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The 2022 World Air Quality Report conducted by Swiss air quality technology company, IQAir, released its ranking of cities, nations and regions with the highest levels of the deadly air pollutant, particulate matter (PM) 2.5. IQAir’s report analyzed recorded data from more than 30,000 air quality monitors in 7,323 cities and 131 countries, regions and territories.

The study confirmed that only six countries met the World Health Organization’s (WHO) updated safe levels of the deadly air pollutant, EcoWatch reported

“Too many people around the world don’t know that they are breathing polluted air,” Aidan Farrow, senior air quality scientist at Greenpeace International, said.

The top five most polluted countries in 2022 were:

  • Chad
  • Iraq
  • Pakistan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh

“Air pollution monitors provide hard data that can inspire communities to demand change and hold polluters to account, but when monitoring is patchy or unequal, vulnerable communities can be left with no data to act on. Everyone deserves to have their health protected from air pollution,” Farrow said.

A total of 118 (90%) out of 131 countries and regions exceeded the WHO annual PM2.5 guideline value of 5 µg/m3, according to a press release.

Within the United States, the most polluted city was Coffeyville, Kansas and the most polluted major city was Columbus, Ohio. California had 10 of the 15 most polluted cities in the U.S. and Las Vegas ranked the cleanest major U.S. city.

According to the report, “the number of countries and regions with air quality monitoring has steadily increased over the past five years” and “significant gaps in government-operated regulatory instrumentation” still exists in many parts of the world.

“In 2022, more than half of the world’s air quality data was generated by grassroots community efforts,” Frank Hammes, global CEO of IQAir, said. “When citizens get involved in air quality monitoring, we see a shift in awareness and the joint effort to improve air quality intensifies. We need governments to monitor air quality, but we cannot wait for them. Air quality monitoring by communities creates transparency and urgency. It leads to collaborative actions that improves air quality.”

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