ISLAMABAD: 95 percent of the world’s population, Pakistanis among them, breath dangerous air, a report published by the Health Effects Institute had revealed.
According to the study, Pakistan along with Bangladesh and India have experienced the steepest increase in air pollution levels since 2010. However, on the other hand, China’s air pollution exposures have stabilised and have even begun to decline slightly.
Based on the data and knowledge of the populations in each country for 2016, 95 percent of the world’s population lives in areas that exceeded the WHO Guideline for particulate matter (PM) i.e. 2.5. 58 percent of the global population resided in areas with PM 2.5.
Countries in North Africa, West Africa and the Middle East top the list with the highest grossing concentration of dangerous air.
South Asia was next on the list. Combustion emissions from multiple sources, including household solid fuel use, coal-fired power plants, agricultural and another open burning, and industrial and transportation-related sources have contributed to the increase in air pollution.
The population-weighted annual average PM2.5 concentrations were recorded 101 µg/m3 in Bangladesh, 78 µg/m3 in Nepal, and 76 µg/m3 in both India and Pakistan. The population-weighted annual average concentration in China was 56 µg/ m3.
Estimates for population-weighted annual average PM2.5 concentrations were found to be lowest in Australia, Brunei, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden, and several Pacific island nations.
The institute’s Vice President Bob O’Keefe said that the gap between the most polluted air on the planet and the least polluted was striking. While developed countries have made moves to clean up, many developing countries have fallen further behind as they continue to seek economic growth.