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WorldAll but 7 Countries on Earth Have Air Pollution Above WHO Standard

Only 10 countries and territories out of 134 achieved the World Health Organization’s standards for a pervasive form of air pollution last year, according to air quality data compiled by IQAir, a Swiss company.

The pollution studied is called fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, because it refers to solid particles less than 2.5 micrometers in size: small enough to enter the bloodstream. PM2.5 is the deadliest form of air pollution, leading to millions of premature deaths each year.

“Air pollution and climate change both have the same culprit, which is fossil fuels,” said Glory Dolphin Hammes, the CEO of IQAir’s North American division.

The World Health Organization sets a guideline that people shouldn’t breathe more than 5 micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic meter of air, on average, throughout a year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed tightening its standard from 12 to 9 micrograms per cubic meter.

The few oases of clean air that meet World Health Organization guidelines are mostly islands, as well as Australia and the northern European countries of Finland and Estonia. Of the non-achievers, where the vast majority of the human population lives, the countries with the worst air quality were mostly in Asia and Africa.

The four most polluted countries in IQAir’s ranking for 2023 — Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Tajikistan — are in South and Central Asia.

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