Where in the world is the dirtiest and cleanest air – a ranking of countries

Where in the world is the dirtiest and cleanest air – a ranking of countries


In which countries does air quality meet WHO standards?

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The world’s air quality is deteriorating due to the recovery of economic activity and the toxic effects of forest fire smoke.

Out of 134 countries and regions, only seven meet international air quality standards, it is said in the IQAir report.

The WHO introduced the PM2.5 standard, which measures the amount of polluted particles emitted by cars, trucks and industrial enterprises.

These microscopic soot particles, smaller in size than a human hair, when inhaled can cause many health problems and eventually lead to death.

The rating was formed on the basis of data from the Swiss Air Quality Control Organization, which collects information from more than 30,000 monitoring stations around the world.

Among the countries with the cleanest air are Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius and New Zealand.

The report also noted the countries with the most polluted air:

  • Bangladesh (79.9 µg/m3), which is more than 15 times higher than the annual WHO standard for PM2.5;
  • Pakistan (73.7 μg/m3), exceeds the norm by more than 14 times;
  • India (54.4 μg/m3) – the level is ten times higher than the WHO annual norm;
  • Tajikistan (49.0 μg/m3) – the air is more than 9 times dirtier than the norm;
  • Burkina Faso (46.6 µg/m3) is 9 times higher than the annual standard for PM2.5.

Ukraine took 107th place in the rating. The average amount of air pollution in 2023 was 8.6 micrograms per cubic meter, which is almost twice the norm.

The situation with pollution in Kyiv in 2018-2023

The situation with pollution in Kyiv in 2018-2023

Screenshot from the IQAir website

At the same time, before the full-scale invasion, the indicators were much worse. For example, in 2020, the indicator was 19.2 micrograms per cubic meter.

Currently, air quality indicators exceed the norm by 1-2 times throughout the territory of Ukraine.

The current situation of air pollution in Ukraine

The current situation of air pollution in Ukraine

Screenshot from the IQAir website

The science is pretty clear about the effects of air pollution, but we’ve become so used to background levels of pollution that are too high to be healthy. We are not making adjustments fast enough,” said IQAir North America CEO Gloria Dolphin Hammes.

The situation in Canada is disappointing due to record forest fires. This country used to be considered one of the cleanest air, but in 2023 the level of PM2.5 increased by almost a third.

For the first time in the history of this report, Canada was the most polluted country in North America – 13 of the most polluted cities in the region are located within its borders.

In 2021, the WHO lowered its recommendations for “safe” levels of PM2.5 to 5 micrograms per cubic meter. But even with such an indicator, the air in European countries does not meet the standards.

“We share the atmosphere with everyone else in the world, and we need to make sure we don’t do anything that harms others.” Hammes added.





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