World Air Quality Report 2018: Highlights

Published on Saturday, March 23, 2019
World Air Quality Report 2018: Highlights


  • The report presents PM2.5 air quality data as aggregated through the IQAir AirVisual platform in 2018. The report prepared in collaboration with Greenpeace Southeast Asia, reveals the state of particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution in 2018. It highlights a widespread but unequal distribution of PM2.5 pollution.

Key Findings

  • Out of 3000 cities included, 64% exceeded the WHO’s annual exposure guideline for fine particulate matter.
  • The WHO recommends an annual mean exposure threshold of 10 μg/m³ to minimize the risk of health impacts from PM2.5
  • The ranking shows that Asian locations dominate the highest 100 average PM2.5 levels during 2018, with cities in India, Pakistan, China and Bangladesh occupying top 50 cities.
  • In South Asia: out of 20 most polluted cities in the world, 18 are in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • In Southeast Asia: Jakarta and Hanoi are Southeast Asia’s two most polluted cities. As the quality of air in Beijing is getting better, Jakarta risks overtaking China’s famously polluted capital soon.
  • In China: average concentrations in the cities in China fell by 12% from 2017 to 2018. Beijing has been ranked as the 122nd most polluted city in the world in 2018.
  • In the Western Balkans: 10 cities in the Western Balkans – Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo – and four in Turkey have PM2.5 levels more than 3 times the WHO guidelines.
  • In U.S. and Canada: Historic wildfires had a dramatic impact on air quality in August and November, with 5 out of 10 most polluted cities in the world during August found in North America.
  • Massive populations, including on continental Africa and South America, do not have adequate air quality measuring infrastructure.
  • Rankings of the most polluted countries is as follows:
    1. Gurugram, India (PM 2.5 - 135.8)
    2. Ghaziabad, India (135.2)
    3. Faisalabad, Pakistan (130.4)
    4. Faridabad, India (129.1)
    5. Bhiwadi, India (125.4)

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