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Only Iceland, Finland, and 5 other countries had clean enough air to meet a global safety standard: data

Only Iceland, Finland, and 5 other countries had clean enough air to meet a global safety standard: data
  • The 2023 World Air Quality Report showed that only a few countries have acceptable air quality.

  • Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India were listed as the most polluted.

  • Canada was the most polluted country in North America in 2023 due to wildfires.

Hardly any countries have clean enough air to hit a global safety benchmark, according to new research.

Data from the Swiss company IQAir found that 124 of 134 regions failed to meet standards set by the World Health Organization for small-particle pollution known as PM2.5.

The only seven countries deemed acceptable were Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius, Australia, and New Zealand.

Two territories also made the list: Puerto Rico and French Polynesia.

IQAir, which sells air-purification products, compiles an annual ranking from data in 7,812 locations in the 134 territories.

The data came from ground-level air monitoring stations distributed by governments, educational institutions, and nonprofits.

A road in Skógar, Southern Iceland.
Skógar, Southern Iceland.Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images

PM2.5 pollution is made up of tiny, invisible particles.

Each particle measures less than 2.5 micrometers, which is around one ten-thousandth of an inch.

Prolonged exposure to PM2.5 has been linked to heart and lung problems.

And, per the ranking, 92.5% of nations on earth have too much of it.

The countries with the highest exposure levels were Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India, which all had more than 10 times the WHO recommended levels of PM2.5.

"Unfortunately things have gone backwards," Glory Dolphin Hammes, chief executive of IQAir in North America, told The Guardian on Tuesday.

"The science is pretty clear about the impacts of air pollution and yet we are so accustomed to having a background level of pollution that's too high to be healthy. We are not making adjustments fast enough."

For the first time in the report's history, Canada was the most polluted country in Northern America last year due to the wildfires which lasted from May until October.

The US experienced a slight increase in PM2.5 levels for the same reason, the report said.

However, the report also noted that wildfires on the West Coast decreased significantly due to new technology for early warning systems.

Smoky haze from wildfires in Canada diminishes the visibility of the Chrysler Building
Smoky haze from wildfires in Canada diminishes the visibility of the Chrysler Building on June 7, 2023 in New York City.David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Cities were also included in a ranking. According to the report, only 9% of cities surveyed achieved WHO's guidelines in 2023.

Helinski (Finland), Tallinn (Estonia), Hamilton (Bermuda), Reykjavik (Iceland), Canberra (Australia), Wellington (New Zealand), and San Juan (Puerto Rico) had the lowest PM2.5 concentrations.

Columbus, Ohio was the most polluted US city in 2023, while Las Vegas was the cleanest major city.

Read the original article on Business Insider