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Every country exceeds new PM2.5 annual limit set by WHO: Report

  • Published
    23rd Mar, 2022

A new report found that no country in 2021 met the updated air quality guidelines defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).


Key findings of the report:

  • Concentration of particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) was found to be within WHO standards in only 222 out of 6,475 cities covered in the report by IQAir.
  • The concentration in 93 per cent of the cities was 10 times the new guideline.
  • This was the case in 48 per cent of India’s cities.
  • India was among the top five countries with the highest concentration of PM2.5, with Delhi as the most polluted capital in the world.
  • The city recorded an increase of over 14 per cent in the concentration of PM2.5 in 2021 compared to 2020.
  • Dhaka (Bangladesh), N’Djamena (Chad), Dushanbe (Tajikistan) and Muscat (Oman) followed Delhi in the grim list of polluted capital cities.
  • Of the 15 most polluted cities in Central and South Asia in 2021, 12 were in India.
  • Only the territories of New Caledonia, United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico met updated WHO PM2.5 air quality guidelines.

New WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines:

  • In September 2021, the United Nations health agency tightened the global air quality norms and lowered the annual concentration of PM2.5 to five microgram (μg) from 10μg.
  • New WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) provide clear evidence of the damage air pollution inflicts on human health, at even lower concentrations than previously understood.
  • The guidelines recommend new air quality levels to protect the health of populations, by reducing levels of key air pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change.

About WHO:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health.
  • It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The core function of WHO is to direct and coordinate international health work through collaboration.
  • The main areas of work are health systems; health through the life-course; non-communicable and communicable diseases; preparedness, surveillance and response; and corporate services.
  • WHO partners with countries, the United Nations system, international organisations, and civil society, foundations, academia, and research institutions.
  • The World Health Assembly is attended by delegations from all Member States, and determines the policies of the Organization.
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