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


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Average air quality in only 222 of the 6,475 cities analyzed met World Health Organization standards. Three territories were found to comply with WHO guidelines: the French territories of New Caledonia, the US territories of Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were among the countries with the worst air pollution, exceeding guidelines by at least 10 times.

Scandinavia, Australia, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom rank among the best countries for air quality, with average levels exceeding guidelines 1 to 2 times.

In the United States, IQAir found that air pollution exceeded WHO guidelines by 2 to 3 times in 2021.

“This report underscores the need for governments around the world to help reduce global air pollution,” Glory Dolphin Hammes, CEO of IQAir North America told CNN. “(Fine particulates) are killing far too many people each year, and governments need to set stricter national air quality standards and explore better foreign policies that improve air quality.”

Above: IQAir analyzed the annual average air quality of more than 6000 cities and ranked them from best air quality, in blue (meets WHO PM2.5 Association) to worst, in purple (exceeds WHO PM2.5 guidelines by more than 10 times). source: IQAir
It’s the first major global air quality report based on the new WHO report Annual Air Pollution Guidelineswhich was Updated September 2021. The new guidelines reduced the acceptable concentration of fine particulate matter – or PM 2.5 – from 10 to 5 micrograms per cubic meter.
PM 2.5 is the smallest pollutant but it is also among the most dangerous. When inhaled, it travels deep into the lung tissue where it can enter the bloodstream. It comes from sources such as burning fossil fuels, dust storms, and wildfires, and has been linked to a number of health threats including crisisAnd the heart disease and other respiratory diseases.
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Millions of people die every year from air quality problems. In 2016, around 4.2 million premature deaths They were associated with fine particles, according to the World Health Organization. If the 2021 guidelines were implemented that year, the World Health Organization found that there could have been nearly 3.3 million pollution-related deaths.

IQAir analyzed pollution monitoring stations in 6,475 cities across 117 countries, regions and territories.

In the United States, air pollution increased in 2021 compared to 2020 More than 2,400 US cities Analyzed, Los Angeles air remained the most polluted, although down 6% compared to 2020. Atlanta and Minneapolis saw big increases The report showed.

“(U.S.) reliance on fossil fuels, the increased intensity of wildfires, as well as the implementation of the Clean Air Act from one administration to another, are all factors that increase air pollution in the United States,” the authors wrote.

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Researchers say the main sources of pollution in the United States have been fossil-fueled transportation, energy production and wildfires, which are wreaking havoc on the country’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

“We are very dependent on fossil fuels, especially in terms of transportation,” said Hammes, who lives a few miles from Los Angeles. “We can act smart about this without emissions, but we still don’t. This has a devastating effect on the air pollution we see in big cities.”

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Wildfires fueled by climate change will play a significant role in reducing air quality in the United States in 2021. The authors note a number of fires that have led to serious air pollution — including the Kaldor and Dixie fires in California, as well as the Bootleg Fire in Oregon that The smoke spread all the way to the east coast in July.
China – which is among the countries with the worst air pollution – showed an improvement in air quality in 2021. More than half of the Chinese cities analyzed in the report experienced lower levels of air pollution compared to the previous year. The capital, Beijing, has continued a five-year trend of air quality improvement, according to the report, due to a Withdrawal driven by politics polluting industries.
The report also found that amazon rainforestwhich has acted as the world’s main advocate against the climate crisis, has been emitting more carbon dioxide than it absorbed last year. Elimination of Forests And the Forest fires It threatens a critical ecosystem, pollutes the air and contributes to climate change.

“This is all part of the formula that will or will lead to global warming.” Hammes said.

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The report also revealed some inequalities: Monitoring stations are still scarce in some developing countries in Africa, South America and the Middle East, resulting in a scarcity of air quality data in those regions.

“When you don’t have that data, you’re really in a state of ignorance,” Hams said.

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Hammes noted that the African country of Chad was included in the report for the first time, due to the improvement of its monitoring network. IQAir found that the country’s air pollution was the second highest in the world last year, after Bangladesh.

Tariq Ben Marhnia, a climate change epidemiologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who has studied the health impact of wildfire smoke, also noted that relying only on monitoring stations can lead to blind spots in these reports.

“I think it’s great that they relied on different networks and not just on government sources,” Ben Mhrhania, who was not involved in this report, told CNN. “However, many areas do not have enough stations and alternative technologies do exist.”

United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Concluded in its 2021 report That in addition to slowing the pace of global warming, reducing fossil fuel use would have the added benefit of improving air quality and public health.

Hammes said the IQAir report is another reason why the world should stop using fossil fuels.

“We got the report, we can read it, we can absorb it and really devote ourselves to taking action,” she said. “There has to be a major move toward renewable energy. We need to take drastic action in order to reverse global warming; otherwise, the impact and the train we’re in (will be) irreversible.”

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