In a study conducted by scientists in Australia and China, they found out that almost nowhere on earth is safe from unhealthy air, with Asia becoming the highest concentrated place of pollution. It is stated that about 99.82% of the global land area is exposed to levels of particulate matter 2.5 (pm 2.5). Particulate matter is tiny particles in the air scientists have linked to lung cancer and heart disease.
According to that study, on a global level, more than 70% of days in 2019 had daily PM2.5 concentrations exceeding 15 micrograms of gaseous pollutant per cubic meter, the WHO recommended daily limit. This matter is especially worrisome in Asia where more than 90% of days had PM of 2.5 concentrations. While any amount of PM 2.5 is harmful, scientists and regulators are typically less concerned about daily levels than they are about chronic exposure.
This study was conducted with the hope that it can change the mind of the public and scientists alike about the daily exposure of PM 2.5. Many of the public health officials and researchers have long been alert that air pollution alone kills around 6.7 million people each year, with nearly two-thirds of the premature deaths caused by fine particulate matter.
When it came to estimating annual exposure across all regions, the researchers found that the highest concentrations occurred in Eastern Asia (50 micrograms per cubic meter), followed by Southern Asia (37 micrograms) and Northern Africa (30 micrograms). Residents of Australia and New Zealand faced the least threat from fine particulate matter, while other regions in Oceania and Southern America were also among the places with the lowest annual PM2.5 concentrations.
The team also examined how air pollution changed over two decades up to 2019. For instance, most areas in Asia, northern and sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, and Latin America and the Caribbean experienced an increase in PM2.5 concentrations over the 20 years, driven in part by intensified wildfires or how in Europe and northern America decreased, thanks to stricter regulations.