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

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

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

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

In the USA, IQAir discovered air air pollution exceeded WHO tips by 2 to three occasions in 2021.

“This report underscores the necessity for governments all over the world to assist cut back world air air pollution,” Glory Dolphin Hammes, CEO of IQAir North America, advised CNN. “(Advantageous particulate matter) kills far too many individuals yearly and governments have to set extra stringent air high quality nationwide requirements and discover higher international 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 finest air high quality, in blue (Meets WHO PM2.5 guildline) to worst, in purple (Exceeds WHO PM2.5 guideline by over 10 occasions). An interactive map is out there from IQAir.
It is the primary main world air high quality report based mostly on WHO’s new annual air pollution guidelines, which have been updated in September 2021. The brand new tips halved the suitable focus of high-quality 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 could actually enter the bloodstream. It comes from sources just like the burning of fossil fuels, mud storms and wildfires, and has been linked to plenty of well being threats together with asthma, heart disease and different respiratory diseases.
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Thousands and thousands of individuals die annually from air high quality points. In 2016, round 4.2 million premature deaths have been related to high-quality particulate matter, in line 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 essentially 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, rising 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 have been fossil fuel-powered transportation, vitality manufacturing and wildfires, which wreak havoc on the nation’s most weak and marginalized communities.

“We’re closely depending on fossil fuels, particularly by way of transportation,” mentioned Hammes, who lives just a few miles from Los Angeles. “We are able to act neatly 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.”

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Local weather change-fueled wildfires performed a big function in lowering air high quality within the US in 2021. The authors pointed to plenty of 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 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 pattern of improved air high quality, in line with the report, attributable to 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 towards the local weather disaster, emitted extra carbon dioxide than it absorbed final yr. Deforestation and wildfires have threatened the essential ecosystem, polluted the air and contributed to local weather change.

“That is all part of the formulation that can result in or is resulting in world warming.” Hammes mentioned.

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 information in these areas.

“When you do not have that information, you are actually at the hours of darkness,” Hammes mentioned.

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Hammes famous the African nation of Chad was included within the report for the primary time, attributable to an enchancment in its monitoring community. IQAir discovered the nation’s air air pollution was the second-highest on the planet 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 studies.

“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 various 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 advantage of bettering air high quality and public well being.

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

“We have got the report, we are able to learn it, we are able to internalize it and actually commit ourselves to taking motion,” she mentioned. “There must be a significant transfer in the direction of renewable vitality. We have to take drastic motion as a way to reverse the tide of world warming; in any other case, the affect and the practice that we’re on (can be) irreversible.”

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