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Cartography: which country has the worst air quality?

Credits: WHO

We are well aware that air pollution is a huge public health problem, affecting especially babies and older people. The World Health Organisation has created an interactive map, which shows the least and most polluted areas on our planet.

The World Air Quality Index is another interactive map, a project which started in 2007, aiming to increase awareness about air pollution by assembling global data. This previous map displayed air quality measures in specific points across the globe.

The map we are talking about today is the result of collaboration between the Global Health Observatory and the World Health Organisation. It shows the world map in six different colours going from green (for almost pure air) to dark red (for extremely polluted air). Thus, it is possible to really see global pollution levels and make comparisons between specific areas.

The map unfortunately shows that around 80% of humans are breathing in poor quality air. Another alarming statistic: 98% of cities in lower or medium-income countries are not meeting UN standards for air pollution.

Obviously, the areas in which the air appears healthiest are areas outside of the large cities, and in countries where the population is not very dense. Such areas include Canada, large parts of the United States and Australia, as well as Scandinavia, Siberia, the Himalayas, Patagonia, the North East of Brazil and Eastern Indonesia (plus Papua New Guinea).

The air quality impacts on the health of vulnerable populations, and could be causing numerous diseases such as lung cancer. Here are a few striking screenshots:

Although in Europe, the situation may not be not too alarming…
(Credit: WHO)
… this is not the case in large parts of Asia…
(Credit: WHO)
… or in Africa or the Middle East
(Credit: WHO)

Explore the WHO map of global air pollution

Sources: OMSTuxboard