Countries with the Highest and Lowest Levels of Air Pollution

Recently The Telegraph published an article and map laying out the world’s most polluted countries. Included in the article is a list of the 20 most polluted urban areas, as well as the 20 least polluted urban areas. With an estimated 7.5 billion people currently populating the Earth, it is important we do our part to improve air quality and lower the amount of harmful emissions we, as a people, are generating. This volume of air pollution isn’t something you find in nature. It is a problem caused by mankind. Unfortunately, this problem then breeds other issues like health problems, damage to the environment and more.

Whether your country one of the ones with high levels of air pollution or you live in an area with relatively lower levels,  it’s important you make yourself aware so you can take action to improve air quality in your immediate area.

Most Polluted Urban Areas

Pakistan tops the list as the most polluted country in the world with an average fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) concentration of 115.7. Fine particulate matter is basically tiny particles in the air that not only reduce visibility and cause the air to look hazy, these particles are also a significant concern for people’s health. Because these particles are so small, the likelihood of people inhaling them into their lungs is extremely high. This can lead to serious breathing and other major health issues.

If you live in the one of the top 10 (or even 20) most polluted urban areas, air pollution is an issue you have to contend with every day. Here are the concentration levels for the 10 most polluted urban areas in the world today:

1 – Pakistan: 115.7

2 – Qatar: 92.4

3 – Afghanistan: 86

4 – Bangladesh: 83.3

5 – Egypt: 73

6 – UAE: 64

7 – Mongolia: 61.8

8 – India: 60.6

9 – Bahrain: 56.1

10 – Nepal: 50

China, despite numerous reports in recent years about its air pollution being at extremely high levels, manages to miss the top 10 most polluted urban areas and comes in at number 13 with an average PM 2.5 of 41.4. In fact, China has been making a concerted effort to improve air quality levels throughout its major cities. Bloomberg News recently reported China Is Winning Its War on Air Pollution, at Least in Beijing. This is a good sign and shows hope for the people in other heavily polluted cities and countries around the town.

Least Polluted Urban Areas

On the other side of the coin are the countries considered to have the lowest average levels of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) in the air.

1 – Australia: 5.7

2 – Brunei: 6.6

3 – New Zealand: 6.8

4 – Estonia: 7.2

5 – Finland: 7.3

6 – Canada: 7.5

7 – Iceland: 8.2

8 – Sweden: 8.7

9 – Ireland: 8.8

10 – Liberia: 9.3

Japan just misses the Top 10 list coming in at number 11 with an average PM 2.5 of 10. The United States comes in at number 17 with an average PM 2.5 concentration of 12.9. Of course you have to realize, this doesn’t mean you won’t find individual cities in these countries with much higher PM 2.5 levels, it simply means these countries have a lower average PM 2.5 than others.

What Can Be Done?

Regardless of where you live, it is important you do what you can to contribute to lower air pollution levels. I know it can seem like a daunting task and you may not have many ideas on how you can make a difference. Fortunately, we have a few ideas to help get you started. Doing these steps can help lower air pollution levels either at home, the office or in the city in which you live. Getting others to do the same will help spread the results. The more people advocating for improved air quality, and actively taking actions to curb harmful air pollution, the better off we will be.

Steps You Can Take to Help Reduce Air Pollution

  • Figure out how to carpool to work or take public transportation if carpooling isn’t an option.
  • Ditch your vehicle as much as possible. Walk, ride your bike, skate or find other creative ways to get around town.
  • If you do drive, use a proven liquid fuel catalyst like Biofriendly Corporation’s Green Plus as doing so can help reduce vehicle emissions. (NOTE: Biofriendly Corporation also has Green Plus for home heating oil to help reduce toxic emissions generated during home heating.)
  • Grow your own organic fruits, vegetables and herbs. No toxins, pesticides or harmful chemicals required.
  • Plant trees. You can do this yourself or donate to groups that are planting trees in and around your area.
  • Use hand-powered law mowers and garden equipment.
  • Make your own organic air fresheners and cleaning solutions.
  • Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms to help save energy. Using coal, oil or gas to generate electricity is one of the biggest sources of air pollution.
  • Switch to more eco-friendly light bulbs.
  • Unplug appliances not in use.
  • Get energy-efficient appliances.
  • Use your dishwasher or washing machine only when its full and during evening hours.
  • Minimize one-use items and opt for reusable instead. Manufacturing contributes to air pollution.
  • Make the move to renewables (solar, wind, micro-hydro or other renewable energy sources).
  • Reduce your overall consumption. Industrial pollution is a large contributor to overall air pollution levels.
  • Get some plants in your home or office. Certain plants are great for helping improve indoor air quality, like these 9 air-cleaning houseplants.

Of course many other options exist, but these are just a few to aid you in your quest to improve air pollution in your home, office and the city/state in which you live. If you have other ways you improve air quality, leave a comment to let us know. We love sharing good tips and ideas!



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