Current Air Quality Statistics

Just recently, Canada and the State of California has signed a new Clean Air pact. After seeing that on the news, I was inspired to research and write about the current air quality statistics across the globe.

When we talk about pollution, the air quality of the air we breathe comes into question. There are many harmful particulate matter. As we all know harmful substances such sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and chemical vapors are the common air pollutants. Long term effects of air pollution include respiratory diseases like asthma and emphysema. More serious effects of air pollution can include lung cancer, heart disease and birth defects. How worse can air pollution get? Well it can spread to nearby regions due to wind and weather currents. According to Greenpeace, about 7 million lives are taken due to air pollution and incurs a loss of $225 billion to the global economy. Therefore, air pollution should be considered a global issue.

Below is the current Air Quality statistics taken from IQ Air (https://www.airvisual.com/world-most-polluted-countries):

Rank Country/Region/ 2018 AVG Population
1 Bangladesh 97.10 166,368,149
2 Pakistan 74.27 200,813,818
3 India 72.54 1,354,051,854
4 Afghanistan 61.80 36,373,176
5 Bahrain 59.80 1,566,993
6 Mongolia 58.50 3,121,772
7 Kuwait 56.00 4,197,128
8 Nepal 54.15 29,624,035
9 United Arab Emirates 49.93 9,541,615
10 Nigeria 44.84 195,875,237
11 Indonesia 42.01 266,794,980
12 China 41.17 1,415,045,928
13 Uganda 40.80 44,270,563
14 Bosnia Herzegovina 39.97 3,503,554
15 Macedonia 35.47 2,085,051
16 Uzbekistan 34.30 32,364,996
17 Vietnam 32.91 96,491,146
18 Sri Lanka 32.00 20,950,041
19 Kosovo 30.40 1,831,000
20 Kazakhstan 29.80 18,403,860
21 Peru 28.00 32,551,815
22 Ethiopia 27.10 107,534,882
23 Thailand 26.44 69,183,173
24 Bulgaria 25.82 7,036,848
25 Iran 24.97 82,011,735
26 Chile 24.94 18,197,209
27 South Korea 24.01 51,164,435
28 Serbia 23.90 8,762,027
29 Poland 22.39 38,104,832
30 Croatia 22.18 4,164,783
31 Turkey 21.90 81,916,871
32 Macao 21.20 632,000
33 Mexico 20.29 130,759,074
34 Hong Kong 20.20 7,428,887
35 Czech Republic 20.18 10,625,250
36 Cambodia 20.10 16,245,729
37 Romania 18.65 19,580,634
38 Israel 18.60 8,452,841
39 Taiwan 18.54 23,694,089
40 Slovakia 18.50 5,449,816
41 Cyprus 17.58 1,189,085
42 Lithuania 17.48 2,876,475
43 Hungary 16.81 9,688,847
44 Brazil 16.29 210,867,954
45 Austria 15.01 8,751,820
46 Italy 14.95 59,290,969
47 Singapore 14.80 5,930,000
48 Philippines 14.62 106,512,074
49 Ukraine 14.00 44,009,214
50 Colombia 13.90 49,464,683
51 Puerto Rico 13.73 3,659,007
52 Belgium 13.52 11,498,519
53 France 13.16 65,233,271
54 Germany 13.01 82,293,457
55 Japan 12.00 127,185,332
56 Netherlands 11.72 17,084,459
57 Switzerland 11.63 8,544,034
58 Russia 11.42 143,964,709
59 Luxembourg 11.15 590,321
60 Malta 11.00 432,089
61 United Kingdom 10.83 66,573,504
62 Spain 10.34 46,397,452
63 Ireland 9.50 4,803,748
64 Portugal 9.37 10,291,196
65 USA 9.05 326,766,748
66 Canada 7.91 36,953,765
67 New Zealand 7.72 4,749,598
68 Norway 7.61 5,353,363
69 Sweden 7.37 9,982,709
70 Estonia 7.20 1,306,788
71 Australia 6.82 24,772,247
72 Finland 6.57 5,542,517
73 Iceland 5.05 337,780

According to the current statistics, most polluted nations of world in terms of air pollution are in South Asia. Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have the worst air quality as of 2018. The South Asian nations of Bangladesh, Pakistan and India are rapidly developing countries who have high population centers and are going through an economic boom period (India and Bangladesh). We can basically say is that they are going through an Industrial revolution of sorts which the Western nations went through in the 18th and 19th centuries. The high amounts of development through fossil fuels is causing the poor air quality in such countries.

Even though China has many air quality issues, the city of Beijing through many clean air initiatives is making strides in better air quality. Due to rapid development, Indonesia and Vietnam have air pollution problems of their own. The city of Jakarta risks overtaking Beijing at the current rate.

Surprisingly, the list has many Balkan nations such as Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina and Turkey having lower end air quality. Unsurprisingly, there are many Middle Eastern nations with air quality issues due to burning of fossil fuels. North American nations of US and Canada have generally good air quality. However, due to forest fires and coal burning in some States, the air quality of the continent has diminished slightly.

Climate change is also playing a large role in poor air quality across the world. Through Climate change, more forest fire disasters are taking place damaging the land and air. Greenhouse gases from burning of fossil fuels is the major driver of Climate change and air pollution. More efforts are needed in cutting down of fossil fuels and in turn tackle air pollution. Also, more infrastructure is needed in measuring air quality of continents Africa and South America. Remember, this is a global issue and our future generations will also need clean air to breathe.

Clean Air is a human right !

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