Air quality: only seven countries meet WHO standards, including four in Europe

Air quality only seven countries meet WHO standards including four

  • News
  • Published on

    Reading 1 min.

    Worldwide, only a handful of countries comply with WHO air quality recommendations. In other words, the air we breathe is polluted in most areas of the world. Only a few countries and cities are exceptions, notably Finland, Estonia, Iceland and Granada in Spain. This is what the new report from the Swiss company IQAir reveals.

    Produced from monitoring stations located in 134 countries and 7,812 cities around the world, IQAir’s annual Global Air Quality Report evaluates the areas of the planet which have respected or exceeded the annual exposure threshold to fine particles (PM2.5) recommended by the WHO, that is to say a level equal to or less than 5 µg/m3. The survey reveals that only seven countries and cities followed the WHO recommendation. These are Australia, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Mauritius, New Zealand, as well as the city of Granada, Spain.

    A total of 124 (92.5%) of 134 countries and regions exceeded the WHO annual guideline value for PM2.5, which is 5 µg/m3. France is therefore not in the lead, since its exposure level in 2023 amounts to 9.5 μg/m³. However, it is one of the countries which exceed the thresholds set by the WHO by “only” one to two times more, indicated in green in the study, i.e. just before blue, a color which indicates the areas in which the air is the purest.

    The five countries most in the red are all concentrated in Asia. Among them, Bangladesh which records more than fifteen times higher than the WHO annual recommendation (79.9 µg/m3), Pakistan (73.7 µg/m3), India (54.4 µg/m3), m3) more than ten times higher than the WHO annual recommendation for PM2, Tajikistan (49.0 µg/m3) more than nine times higher than the WHO annual recommendation for PM2.5 and Burkina Faso (46.6 µg/m3).

    Air pollution, which causes one in nine deaths worldwide, is the greatest environmental threat to human health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is responsible for around seven million premature deaths worldwide each year, recalls IQAir.