World Health Organization: 2014 Air Pollution Ranking

Posted on May 16th 2015
Share: http:faq/2015-05-16/world-health-organization-2014-air-pollution-ranking

It is already more than one year since the World Health Organization has released their 'Ambient (outdoor) air pollution in cities database 2014'. The WHO team who worked on this project have done an excellent work at gathering the data for so many countries, and putting it all together in a single place accessible for all.

We wrote about it in several of our past articles (like for the Air Quality in Africa or in Latin America), but we never had the chance to look at the different options to visualize their data set. So, this is what we will be writing about in this article.

Level
PM2.5
PM10
Air Quality Guideline
0 .. 10
0 .. 20
Intermediate target - 1
10 .. 15
20 .. 30
Intermediate target - 2
15 .. 25
30 .. 50
Intermediate target - 3
25 .. 35
50 .. 70
Over target
35 .. 53
70 .. 105
Significantly over target
53 ..
105 ..
The first step for the visualization is to define the levels and associated colors. For this purpose, the WHO has already defined several concentration breakpoints for PM10 and PM2.5 annual concentrations, more known as the WHO "Air Quality Guidelines and Interim targets ", so we will just be reusing the same breakpoints values.

For the sake of the visualization, an extra level called "Significantly over target " is added, and defined as 150% of the concentration of the higher interim target (target level 3). Colors code are also assigned to each levels. The table on the right is summarizing the associations.

In order to plot the data for each country (There are 1622 from 92 countries in the WHO database), we use the country average concentration - weighted by the number of inhabitant in each cities. So, that, if the largest city is having a low AQI and few smaller cities in the same country are having a higher AQI, then the country national AQI levels should be reported as small to moderate.

In order to know the number of inhabitant for each city reported in the WHO database, we are using the service from geonames.org. Unfortunately, not all of the cities reported in the WHO DB can be matched on geonames.org, so the visualization below is not completely exact, but good enough for a proof of concept.

PM2.5 average
PM2.5 weighted average
PM10 average
PM10 weighted average
World Health Organization: Annual Ambient Air Pollution
Level/Color
Air Quality Guideline
Intermediate target - 1
Intermediate target - 2
Intermediate target - 3
Over target
Significantly over target
-


And for the reference, here is the list of all countries with their respective annual weighted concentrations for PM10 and PM2.5 pollutants. The columns 'Inhabitants for the cities with Air Quality Data' refers to the total population obtained from the geonames.org service, for the city which can be reverse geo-coded.

Country#Stations#Inhabitants
for the cities with
Air Quality Data
PM2.5PM10City without population information
annual concentrationweighted concentrationannual concentrationweighted concentration
ILIsrael161M
30.3
24.6
62.5
59.19 cities (out of 16)
CACanada13140.8M
6.9
7.5
20.7
22.638 cities (out of 131)
USUnited States37984.2M
9.7
12.9
16
21.3137 cities (out of 379)
ISIceland30.2M
6.3
8.2
10
10.5
BNBrunei40.2M
6.8
6.6
14.5
13.9
AUAustralia1515.2M
6.3
5.7
12.7
12.83 cities (out of 15)
NZNew Zealand173M
7.6
6.8
15.4
14.11 city (out of 17)
SESweden52.2M
9.2
8.7
17.3
16.5
ESSpain4616.9M
12.2
12.4
22.8
23.2
FIFinland51.1M
6.8
7.3
11.5
12.3
JPJapan2033.4M
9.2
10
20.2
2215 cities (out of 20)
MYMalaysia72M
12.4
13.2
27
28.71 city (out of 7)
EEEstonia30.6M
7.3
7.2
15
14
PTPortugal152.2M
11.5
12.3
27.3
29.22 cities (out of 15)
IEIreland21.2M
8.5
8.8
17.5
17.8
NONorway41.1M
9.5
10.9
18.3
20.3
GBUnited Kingdom3616.2M
13.3
14.7
19.6
20.8
MVMaldives10M
9-
20-1 city (out of 1)
ECEcuador94.6M
17.4
24.1
36.3
50.61 city (out of 9)
BRBrazil4032.3M
19.1
21.7
36
40.52 cities (out of 40)
LRLiberia20M
9.5
9.3
59
61.7
ITItaly4811.2M
22.7
24.1
32
33.2
BTBhutan10.1M
10
10
23
23
FRFrance8113.8M
17.4
17.4
24.2
24.61 city (out of 81)
INIndia124123.4M
46
60.6
102.1
129.17 cities (out of 124)
MUMauritius40.3M
26.5
38.1
52.5
75.71 city (out of 4)
ZASouth Africa710.8M
25.6
24
53.4
472 cities (out of 7)
THThailand298.3M
22.4
20.6
41.4
38.9
DEGermany7123M
16.1
17
21.7
22.82 cities (out of 71)
LTLithuania20.5M
14
16
21
231 city (out of 2)
RORomania144.2M
19.6
21
31.8
37.1
PLPoland5411.9M
26.9
26.9
37.2
38.3
MTMalta10M
12
12
0-
BYBelarus42.7M
15
15.7
22.8
23.9
MCMonaco10M
13
13
20
20
CLChile243.2M
24.9
26.8
52.8
55.74 cities (out of 24)
CHSwitzerland60.9M
15.3
15.1
22.7
22.2
BEBelgium72.3M
17.4
18.1
25.8
27
JMJamaica30M
17
15.3
31.7
28.6
COColombia1014.3M
23.1
24.5
41.2
43.61 city (out of 10)
MXMexico918.7M
22.2
23.9
61.8
79.51 city (out of 9)
TRTurkey7133.4M
42.8
39.1
63.8
58.41 city (out of 71)
LULuxembourg10.1M
14
14
18
18
CZCzech Republic152.8M
23.1
21.9
31.5
29.31 city (out of 15)
CRCosta Rica40.1M
17.8
18.8
32.8
35.11 city (out of 4)
ATAustria52.3M
18.8
19.1
25.8
26.7
NLNetherlands123M
16.4
16.9
25.4
25.5
DKDenmark31.5M
16.3
16.7
12
12
ARArgentina113.1M
16
16
30
30
LVLatvia10.7M
16
16
23
23
GRGreece50.2M
21.8
21.4
28
23.6
ADAndorra10M
16
16
24
24
SGSingapore13.5M
17
17
27
27
KRSouth Korea3631.3M
23.4
23
51.1
50.63 cities (out of 36)
PYParaguay11.5M
18
18
0-
MNMongolia81.1M
50.5
61.8
109.9
134.41 city (out of 8)
CNChina112263.3M
40.4
41.4
88
90.19 cities (out of 112)
UYUruguay11.3M
18
18
27
27
VNVietnam35.7M
28.3
29
62
63
LBLebanon23.1M
24.5
23.4
72
69.8
IDIndonesia18.5M
21
21
48
48
BGBulgaria132.7M
34.4
38.6
51.9
57.4
RURussia110.4M
22
22
33
33
CYCyprus20.4M
23
23.1
36
36
SKSlovakia62.6M
26
25.4
36.4
33.81 city (out of 6)
PHPhilippines311.5M
31
22.6
67.7
50.2
SISlovenia20.4M
24
24.5
31
31
BOBolivia21.7M
32
32.5
58.5
59.3
TZTanzania10.3M
23
23
35
35
HUHungary32.1M
25.3
26.7
33.3
33.1
VEVenezuela23M
28
24
52
451 city (out of 2)
LKSri Lanka10.6M
28
28
64
64
SASaudi Arabia12.9M
28
28
87
87
MMMyanmar11.2M
30
30
69
69
IRIran38M
67.3
34.2
177.3
115.11 city (out of 3)
OMOman10.8M
31
31
82
82
HNHonduras10.9M
32
32
58
58
BABosnia and Herzegovina10.7M
33
33
48
48
GTGuatemala11M
33
33
45
45
RSSerbia21.5M
39.5
35.8
59
53.6
PEPeru17.7M
38
38
63
63
SNSenegal12.5M
40
40
179
179
BHBahrain50.5M
54.6
56.1
249.4
255.5
JOJordan11.3M
48
48
128
128
GHGhana12M
49
49
98
98
NPNepal11.4M
50
50
114
114
AEUnited Arab Emirates30.6M
60
64
159.7
1702 cities (out of 3)
BDBangladesh830.5M
76
83.3
153.5
168.9
AFAfghanistan23M
77
86
297
2601 city (out of 2)
PKPakistan413.4M
100.8
115.7
364.8
295.82 cities (out of 4)
EGEgypt27.7M
74.5
73
137.5
1351 city (out of 2)
QAQatar20.4M
89
92.4
160
166.9


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    About the Air Quality and Pollution Measurement:

    About the Air Quality Levels

    AQIAir Pollution LevelHealth ImplicationsCautionary Statement (for PM2.5)
    0 - 50GoodAir quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no riskNone
    51 -100ModerateAir quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
    101-150Unhealthy for Sensitive GroupsMembers of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
    151-200UnhealthyEveryone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effectsActive children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
    201-300Very UnhealthyHealth warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion.
    300+HazardousHealth alert: everyone may experience more serious health effectsEveryone should avoid all outdoor exertion

    To know more about Air Quality and Pollution, check the wikipedia Air Quality topic or the airnow guide to Air Quality and Your Health.

    For very useful health advices of Beijing Doctor Richard Saint Cyr MD, check www.myhealthbeijing.com blog.


    Usage Notice: All the Air Quality data are unvalidated at the time of publication, and due to quality assurance these data may be amended, without notice, at any time. The World Air Quality Index project has exercised all reasonable skill and care in compiling the contents of this information and under no circumstances will the World Air Quality Index project team or its agents be liable in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss, injury or damage arising directly or indirectly from the supply of this data.



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