Pollution: The Choking Cities

According to WHO, the fast-growing countries – India and China – are the most polluted.

The report on air pollution in the world, released Monday, is warning that 80 of the 91 countries that provided information to the World Health Organization (WHO), do not meet international standards.

Reached a dangerous level

In some cities, according to WHO, the concentration of fine particles is 15 times greater than the maximum threshold set. The organization recommends not to exceed, in annual average concentration of PM10, a threshold of 20 micrograms per cubic meter.

An average far from being met. “Air pollution reached dangerous levels for health”, warns the director of the WHO Public Health and Environment, Maria Neira.

Countries without regulatory

Among the poor performers, fast growing countries like India, China and Mongolia are the leading countries with the highest level of air pollution in the world. Then come Botswana, Pakistan, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE.

“Many countries have no regulations on air quality, and when there is one, national standards and their enforcement vary considerably,” said Dr Maria Neira. “The most polluted cities do not control air pollution,” she said.

Switzerland ranks first in the least polluted, closely followed by Norway, the United States, New Zealand and Canada. These good results are partly due to lower population density and the introduction of stricter regulations on air pollution in these countries.

In Europe, France and Germany are slightly higher than the standards set by WHO. Greece and Italy are the European countries the least fussy about air pollution.

The prize for the least polluted city in the world returns to the Canadian Whitehorse that has an annual average of only 3 micrograms of PM10 per cubic meter. By comparison, Paris reached 38 micrograms per cubic meter, Washington, 18 micrograms and 23 for Tokyo.

Two million deaths each year

Motorized transport, industrialization, the use of coal for cooking and heating as well as coal power plants are the main causes of air pollution.

WHO estimates that more than two million people die each year due to inhalation of fine particles in the air. The agency said that 1.1 million deaths could be prevented if standards had been met.