pays non respect normes qualité de l'air

PM2.5 concentrations: only 7 countries meet WHO standards

According to a recent study, only 7 out of 134 countries examined meet the standards set by the WHO for fine particulate matter.

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Air quality, a crucial public health issue
7 countries with good air quality
What about fine particulate matter concentrations in France?

Air quality, a crucial public health issue

Data on air quality reveal a concerning global reality. According to the WHO, 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air, exposing nearly 7 million premature deaths each year.

The main atmospheric pollutants include fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide. These pollutants are emitted from various sources such as motor vehicles, industrial factories, power plants, and even household fires using fossil fuels.

That’s why the World Health Organization decided to establish recommended thresholds for air quality and reduce them in 2021 to protect public health, guide policies, and raise awareness by providing exposure levels to certain atmospheric pollutants above which adverse health effects are more likely to occur.

7 countries with good air quality

To meet the quality standards established by the WHO for suspended particles, it is sufficient to achieve an annual average of 5 µg/m3 or less.

Out of the 134 countries and regions studied, only 7 manage to meet these air quality standards:

  • 🇦🇺 Australia (4,5 µg/m3),
  • 🇪🇪 Estonia (4,7 µg/m3),
  • 🇫🇮 Finland (4,9 µg/m3),
  • 🇬🇩 Grenada (4,15 µg/m3),
  • 🇮🇸 Iceland (4 µg/m3),
  • 🇲🇺 Mauritius (3,5 µg/m3)
  • 🇳🇿 New Zealand (4,3 µg/m3).

At the bottom of the ranking, the most polluted countries in 2023 are Bangladesh (79.9 µg/m3), Pakistan (73.7 µg/m3), and India (54.4 µg/m3), which are 14 times above the recommended thresholds.

Behind the fine particulate pollution lies primarily the combustion of fossil fuels, human activity (industrial processes, energy production, coal and wood burning, agricultural activities, construction…), and climate change (fires, sandstorms, cross-border haze in Southeast Asia, for example).

💡 Good to know: Canada, once renowned for having the world’s purest air, experienced a dramatic turnaround last year, becoming the country most affected by PM2.5 fine particulate matter. Unprecedented wildfires that ravaged the country led to the spread of toxic smoke throughout the territory, reaching even into the United States.

Due to their small size, these particles can penetrate deep into the respiratory tract, causing issues such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, strokes, cancer, and lung conditions. Additionally, they are associated with increased mortality rates, especially among the elderly and those already with health problems. In children, elevated levels of PM2.5 can hinder cognitive development and promote the onset of mental disorders.

What about fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations in France?

Regarding France, it ranks 99th (out of 134 countries, with the first place corresponding to the highest concentration) in terms of PM2.5 concentrations on an annual average (9.5 μg/m³) in 2023 and has seen a significant improvement in air quality since 2018.

PM2.5 fine particulate concentrations in France

Even though France has managed to reduce the concentration of fine particles in the air over the past few years, it still remains outside the WHO recommendations, according to data from the European Environment Agency.

💡 Good to knowOn February 20, 2024, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU tightened rules regarding the quality of ambient air in Europe as part of the “Towards zero pollution in air, water, and soil” action plan, which aims for zero pollution of air, water, and soil by 2050. However, the agreement does not fully align with the most recent recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) of 2021.

Although efforts have been made, air quality remains a significant challenge globally. It is imperative to continue these advancements to ensure optimal air quality for every citizen, whether in France or across the globe. Discover Meersens’ innovative solutions today for monitoring and improving air quality. Together, let’s act for a healthier future!

Need to know the concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in your city?

PM2.5 concentrations: only 7 countries meet WHO standards

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