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PM2.5 pollution is everywhere: only 0.001% of the world’s population breathes clean air

On The Lancet Planetary Health, the 1°study to reconstruct the daily values of PM2.5 throughout the Planet

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Only 0.001% of the world’s population lives in areas where the annual concentration of fine dust is lower than the safety threshold indicated by the World Health Organisation (WHO). These just 8 million people, who live on 0.18% of the earth’s surface, are the only ones facing PM2.5 pollution of less than 5 µg/m3, the limit beyond which it becomes a significant health risk factor. While for daily concentration, the global average is 32.8 µg/m3, more than double the WHO threshold.

Where does PM2.5 pollution most affect?

This is stated in the first study in the world to have reconstructed the daily values of fine particles all over the Planet. To compile a complete dataset and obtain values even in unmonitored regions, the research team used traditional air quality monitoring observations, weather and air pollution detectors via satellite, Statistical and machine learning (machine learning) methods to more accurately assess PM2.5 pollution globally.

Read also Air quality in Europe, in 2020 more than 300 thousand premature deaths between PM2.5, NOx and O3

In this study, we used an innovative machine learning approach to integrate more meteorological and geological information to estimate the global daily concentrations of PM2.5 at surface level at a high spatial resolution of about 10 km x 10 km in the period 2000-20002019, focusing on areas above 15 μg/m3″, explains Yuming Guo, first author of the study published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

Data from the last 20 years reveal trends. Positive in Europe and North America, where PM2.5 pollution has fallen. Growth instead in South Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Latin America and the Caribbean. A very varied picture, despite the global balance suggests that days with excessive concentrations are decreasing overall. The highest concentrations of PM2.5 were found in East Asia (50 µg/m3) and South Asia (37.2 µg/m3), followed by North Africa (30.1 µg/m3).

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