World Air Quality Report 2022 finds only six countries met WHO guidelines for PM2.5

The 5th annual IQAir World Air Quality Report, which reviews air quality data from 7,323 cities across 131 countries, has found that only AustraliaEstoniaFinlandGrenadaIceland, and New Zealand met the World Health Organisation guideline for PM2.5.

Despite the apparently widespread source of data, the 30,000 air quality monitoring stations which provided information are not equally distributed. Of that number, only 156 were in Africa. And of that number only one was in Chad – the most air polluted country in the world, with a reading of 89.7 µg/m3 – more than 17 times higher than the WHO PM2.5 annual guideline.

A major contributory factor in Chad’s figure is its exposure to severe dust storms originating out of the Bodélé Depression which can affect the country for up to 100 days a year. 

The next four countries with the worst air quality are Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain and Bangladesh. Indeed, Central and South Asia is  home to eight of the world’s ten cities with the worst air pollution.

A lack of usable data, particularly in Africa, is a source of frustration for the researchers. Although the amount of data available is increasing, only 19 out of 54 African countries had sufficient data available to be included in the report, leaving 35 unaccounted for. Some countries who have fared badly in the past are not included this year because of a lack of data,. Afghanistan and Oman being prime examples.

 Frank Hammes, Global CEO, IQAir said: ‘In 2022, more than half of the world’s air quality data was generated by grassroots community efforts. When citizens get involved in air quality monitoring, we see a shift in awareness and the joint effort to improve air quality intensifies. We need governments to monitor air quality, but we cannot wait for them. Air quality monitoring by communities creates transparency and urgency. It leads to collaborative actions that improves air quality

Aidan Farrow, Senior Air Quality Scientist at Greenpeace International said: ‘Too many people around the world don’t know that they are breathing polluted air. Air pollution monitors provide hard data that can inspire communities to demand change and hold polluters to account, but when monitoring is patchy or unequal, vulnerable communities can be left with no data to act on. Everyone deserves to have their health protected from air pollution.’ 


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Mark Tebbutt
Mark Tebbutt
1 year ago

I am surprised New Zealand is on the list given widespread use of wood for heating. I guess it all depends what and how the data is used. There are bound to be individual towns that don’t meet WHO guidelines.

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