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HEI releases State of Global Air report with data on PM2.5 and NO2 pollution

19 August 2022

The world’s biggest cities and urban areas face some of the worst air quality on the planet, according to a new report published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI). The report, Air Quality and Health in Cities, provides a comprehensive analysis of air pollution and global health impacts for more than 7,000 cities around the world, focusing on two of the most harmful pollutants; fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

In 2019, 1.7 million deaths linked to PM2.5 occurred in the cities included in the analysis. Cities in Asia, Africa, and Eastern and Central Europe saw the greatest health impacts from PM2.5 exposures.

While PM2.5 pollution tends to get more attention on known hotspots around the world, less data has been available for NO2 at this global scale. According to the report, 86% of the cities exceeded the WHO’s 10 µg/m3 guideline for annual NO2 exposure, impacting about 2.6 billion people.

Using data from 2010 to 2019, the report found that global patterns for exposures to PM2.5 and NO2 are strikingly different. While exposures to PM2.5 pollution tend to be higher in cities located in low- and middle-income countries, exposure to NO2 is high across cities in high-income as well as low- and middle-income countries.

The top cities with the highest population weighted annual average PM2.5 exposures (µg/m3) in 2019 include:

  1. Delhi, India (110)
  2. Kolkata, India (84.0)
  3. Kano, Nigeria (83.6)
  4. Lima, Peru (73.2)
  5. Dhaka, Bangladesh (71.4)
  6. Jakarta, Indonesia (67.3)
  7. Lagos, Nigeria (66.9)
  8. Karachi, Pakistan (63.6)
  9. Beijing, China (55.0)
  10. Accra, Ghana (51.9)
  11. Chengdu, China (49.9)
  12. Singapore, Singapore (49.4)
  13. Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (47.4)
  14. Mumbai, India (45.1)

The top cities with the highest NO2 exposures (µg/m3) in 2019 were:

  1. Shanghai, China (41.6)
  2. Moscow, Russia (40.2)
  3. Tehran, Iran (39.8)
  4. Saint Petersburg, Russia (38.3)
  5. Beijing, China (37.7)
  6. Cairo, Egypt (37.5)
  7. Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (36.8)
  8. Minsk, Belarus (36.8)
  9. Istanbul, Turkey (35.3)
  10. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (34.7)
  11. Dushanbe, Tajikistan (34.4)
  12. Seoul, Republic of Korea (33.4)
  13. Lima, Peru (31.6)
  14. Paris, France (31.6)

The report is accompanied by interactive maps showing the air pollution exposure in the 7,239 cities included in the analysis, and the disease burdens associated with air pollution. The report was produced by the State of Global Air Initiative, a collaboration between the Health Effects Institute and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s Global Burden of Disease project.

Source: HEI