According to a new report, CNN Air pollution jumped to unhealthy levels around the world in 2021.
The report by IQAir, a company that tracks global air quality, found that average annual air pollution in every country and 97% of cities exceeded the World Health Organization's air quality guidelines, designed to help governments craft regulations to protect public health.
Only 222 of the 6,475 cities analyzed had average air quality that met WHO's standard. Three territories were found to have met the WHO guidelines: the French territory of New Caledonia and the US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were among the countries with the worst air pollution, exceeding the guidelines by at least 10 times.
The Scandinavian countries, Australia, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom ranked among the best countries in the world for air quality, with average levels that exceeded the guidelines by 1 to 2 times.
In the United States, air pollution exceeded WHO guidelines by 2 to 3 times in 2021, according to IQAir.
The report underscores the need for governments around the world to help reduce global air pollution, said Glory Dolphin Hammes, CEO of IQAir North America. Governments need to set more stringent air quality national standards and explore better foreign policies that promote better air quality, because fine particulate matter kills far too many people every year. IQAir analyzed pollution-monitoring stations in 6,475 cities across 117 countries, regions and territories.
The authors wrote that the United States' reliance on fossil fuels, the increasing severity of wildfires and the varying enforcement of the Clean Air Act from administration to administration have all added to U.S. air pollution.
The main sources of pollution in the United States were fossil fuel-powered transportation, energy production and wildfires, which wreak havoc on the country's most vulnerable and marginalized communities, according to researchers.
Hammes, who lives a few miles from Los Angeles, said that we are heavily dependent on fossil fuels, especially in terms of transportation. We can act smartly on this with zero emissions, but we're still not doing it. The air pollution in major cities is being affected by this, and we're seeing it in major cities. This is a part of the formula that will lead to global warming. Hammes said something.
Monitoring stations in some developing countries in Africa, South America and the Middle East remain scant, which has resulted in a lack of air quality data in those regions.
Hammes said that when you don't have that data, you're really in the dark.
The African country of Chad was included in the report for the first time due to an improvement in its monitoring network, according to Hammes. The country's air pollution was the second-highest in the world last year, behind Bangladesh, according to IQAir.
Tarik Benmarhnia, a climate change epidemiologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who studied the health impact of wildfire smoke, also noted that relying only on monitoring stations can lead to blind spots in these reports.
"I think it is great that they relied on different networks and not only on government sources," Benmarhnia, who was not involved in this report, told CNN.com. Many regions don't have enough stations and alternative techniques exist. Hammes said that the IQAir report is another reason for the world to wean off fossil fuel.
She said that we can read it, we can internalize it and really devote ourselves to taking action because we've got the report. There needs to be a major move towards renewable energy. We need to take drastic action in order to reverse the tide of global warming, otherwise the impact of the train we're on would be irreversible.