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Clear air index shows the most polluted countries and cities

March 8, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

If you’ve never considered visiting the city of Gurugram there’s probably good reason (apart from not knowing where it is) – it has the most polluted air of any city in the world. A new index lists the world’s countries and cities by the purity of their air – and there are a few surprises for Australia and New Zealand.

Gurugram is a satellite city of New Delhi. The 50 most polluted cities in the world, in terms of air quality, are all in China and India – with one exception, according to a new report from Greenpeace and AirVisual, a company that measures air quality. The one exception in the top 50 is Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh had the world’s worst air pollution in 2018.

The countries with worst measured air pollution in 2018 were:

  1. Bangladesh
  2. Pakistan
  3. India
  4. Afghanistan
  5. Bahrain
  6. Mongolia
  7. Kuwait
  8. Nepal
  9. UAE
  10. Nigeria
  11. Indonesia
  12. China
  13. Uganda
  14. Bosnia Herzegovina
  15. Macedonia
  16. Uzbekistan
  17. Vietnam
  18. Sri Lanka
  19. Kosovo
  20. Kazakhstan

Pure air and perfect scenery

Conversely, the countries with the cleanest air in 2018 were:

  1. Iceland
  2. Finland
  3. Australia
  4. Estonia
  5. Sweden
  6. Norway
  7. New Zealand
  8. Canada
  9. USA
  10. Portugal
  11. Ireland
  12. Spain
  13. United Kingdom
  14. Malta
  15. Luxembourg
  16. Russia
  17. Switzerland
  18. Netherlands
  19. Japan
  20. Germany

Of the worst 30 cities for air pollution, no fewer than 22 are in India. Air quality in China is improving. China has five cities in the top 30, but also 17 cities between the 30th and 50th place. The report says the average concentration of pollutants in China fell by 12% between 2017 and 2018.

The report focuses on particles with a size of PM2.5 or 2.5 micrometres (0.000 0025 metres) because they have the greatest impact on human health.

Beijing has escaped the top 100 most polluted cities, a tribute to government efforts to control air pollution.

The situation is deteriorating in Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.

There are some surprises when measuring Australia and New Zealand. Both have very clean air by world standards, which is no great surprise. The air in Blenheim, New Zealand, was the worst measured in Australasia in 2018 – just because it deteriorates sharply in the winter months, particularly June, probably because of burning for home heating. No problem in summer.

It is followed by (of all places) Longford, Tasmania, again because of a big deterioration in air quality in winter, maybe because of home heating smoke or authorities conducting autumn fuel reduction burns. In June 2018, air in Longford was ranked “unhealthy for sensitive groups” – the only place in Australia or New Zealand to reach that level.

Hobart has the purest air of any capital city in Australia, followed by Melbourne, then Wellington (NZ), then Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.

For the report, data from more than 6000 cities and cities in the world was measured and compared. Data from Europe, Asia, and North America is available but it’s harder to find accurate readings from Africa, South America and Russia. To make comparisons, see here.

Written by Peter Needham

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