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7 Countries with Safe Air: Europe Leads with Three

Countries with Cleanest Air 3 in Europe

According to a recent report by IQAir, only seven countries worldwide managed to meet safe air pollution levels in 2023.

The World Air Quality Report, which was recently published, utilizes data from over 30,000 monitoring stations across 134 countries, territories, and regions.

Out of these, 124 were discovered to exceed the recommended levels of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter), as per the guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

These tiny particles, which are smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, have the ability to enter our lungs and even travel through our bloodstreams. These factors have been associated with heart and lung disease, high blood pressure, heightened asthma risk, depression and anxiety, as well as premature death.

The Seven Countries with Safe Air Quality?

Seven countries, including Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius, and New Zealand, have successfully met the safe guideline of five micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) or less.

Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and French Polynesia were also found to be within safe levels.

When it comes to air quality in Europe, Iceland takes the lead with the cleanest air at 4µg/m3. Estonia follows closely behind with 4.7µg/m3, and Finland comes in third with 4.9µg/m3.

Many European countries were found to have pollution levels that exceeded the safe standard, as indicated by the green category on the colour scale.

Among the countries with the least pollution are Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Liechtenstein, Denmark, United Kingdom, Andorra, Latvia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, Spain, and Russia.

European cities have made significant progress since the 2022 report, with a notable increase in the number of cities classified as green in 2023 compared to the previous year.

How Terrible is Air Pollution in other European Countries?

Several European countries, including Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Cyprus, Slovenia, and Italy, have been classified in the yellow category, indicating pollution levels that are up to three times higher than the safe standard.

In 2023, Croatia made significant strides in reducing PM2.5 levels, with the annual average decreasing by over 40% compared to the previous year. Through a significant increase in the utilization of renewables, they have successfully reached a point where these sources account for over 31 percent of the country’s energy mix. This surpasses the EU average of 23 percent.

Croatia has implemented policies aimed at transitioning away from coal by 2033, decreasing methane emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030, and putting an end to deforestation by 2030.

Moldova, Romania, Albania, Greece, Turkiye, Serbia, and Montenegro all exceeded safe levels in the orange category, up to five times.

In 2023, Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced a significant 18% reduction in PM2.5 levels compared to the previous year. However, it is important to note that despite this improvement, it still holds the unfortunate title of being the most polluted country in the region. Following closely behind is North Macedonia, both of which have pollution levels exceeding five times the safe standard, placing them in the red category.

Igdir in Turkiye has unfortunately been identified as Europe’s most polluted city, with PM2.5 levels exceeding the safe standard by over nine times.

World’s Most Polluted Countries?

South and Central Asia had the highest concentration of countries with poor air quality, as well as being home to the top 10 most polluted cities globally.

Bangladesh claimed the unfortunate first place, recording a staggering 79.9 µg/m3 – a shocking 15 times above the PM2.5 annual guideline set by the WHO.

Considering purchasing a new home? Ways to assess potential risks of sinking, flooding, or polluted air due to climate change. Pakistan ranked second, with levels that were 14 times higher than the safe standards. India had PM2.5 levels that were 10 times above the limit. The country is also home to the four most polluted cities in the world, with industrial Begusarai in the northeast being the most severely affected.

Tajikistan and Burkina Faso ranked as the fourth and fifth most polluted countries, with PM2.5 levels exceeding safe standards by nine times.

Canada has achieved a rather unfortunate distinction in IQAir’s latest report. It has been identified as the most polluted country in North America, with a staggering 13 of the region’s cities being labeled as highly polluted.

The Importance of Air Quality Data?

Air quality reports serve as crucial reminders to address pollution levels, particularly in areas where vulnerable and underrepresented communities reside.

Insufficient data from various African countries has resulted in a significant portion of the continent’s population being excluded from the study due to the unavailability of air quality data.

“A clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a fundamental right for all individuals,” states Frank Hammes, the Global CEO of IQAir. Unfortunately, in numerous regions across the globe, the absence of air quality data hinders prompt decision-making and prolongs avoidable human suffering.

Air quality data is crucial for preserving lives. When air quality is reported, steps are promptly taken to address the issue, resulting in noticeable improvements in air quality.

Aidan Farrow, a senior air quality scientist at Greenpeace International, emphasizes the urgent need for efforts to address the causes of transboundary haze and reduce our dependence on combustion as an energy source.

“In 2023, air pollution continued to be a significant global health crisis,” he remarks. “IQAir’s global data set serves as a crucial reminder of the injustices that arise from this issue and emphasizes the urgency of implementing the numerous solutions available.


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