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Only seven countries are meeting an international air quality standard, with deadly air pollution worsening in places due to a rebound in economic activity and the toxic impact of wildfire smoke, a new report has found.

Of 134 countries and regions surveyed in the report, only seven – Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius and New Zealand – are meeting a World Health Organization (WHO) guideline limit for tiny airborne particles expelled by cars, trucks and industrial processes.

Maybe the standard is too high? You know, given all the trade offs that have to be made about anything at all?

19 thoughts on “Erm?”

  1. So we need a new international treaty allowing the WHO to declare an air emergency and shut down industry and transport in countries with too many particles.

  2. Perhaps population/density has something to do with it. Australia has a population of 27 million with a density of 3.5 people per square kilometer. Finland and New Zealand each have a population of about 5 million and a density of 19 per square kilometer. Those other countries mentioned are a rounding error with less than 4 million people between them. England however has a population density of 434 people for square kilometer.

  3. Population density maybe of interest, but most of the air quality measurements are carried out in urban areas and the pop density in those is probably far less variable. Interesting that NZ for example really has very little by way of controls on air quality though most built up areas have banned open fires within their boundaries.

    Weather may have a lot to do with it, again NZ has notoriously windy cities, or they are situated where prevailing winds tend to keep the air moving.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    Those countries have their main population centres by the sea where there is more chance of regular high winds and are generally windy anyway. Mauritius is mostly flat and so small the land will make no difference to the wind.

    That might not be the only reason or even a major one, but it will play a part.

  5. An annual average of 20 µg/m3 for PM2.5.

    A cubic metre of air contains about 1290000000 micrograms.

    They’re measuring homeopathic quantities of “pollution”.

  6. Steve,

    “They’re measuring homeopathic quantities of “pollution”.”

    I suspect some of this falls into a thing that Timmy has commented on with other pollution, that we can now measure down to the level of single µg/m3.

    We now have people wanting a law because a single child died from an asthma attack who lived in London, 30m from the South Circular road. A child who had been admitted to hospital 25 times in the previous 3 years. And the mother’s attitude is still “Why should we have to leave our neighbourhood?”. Great, so the rest of us have to spend billions, rather than you moving to Devizes.

  7. WB – I don’t wish to be unkind, but I am yet to understand how our London problem can’t be solved by two or three RS-28 Sarmat missiles carrying multiple independent warheads in the 50 megaton range.

    The Sea Peoples did nothing wrong.

  8. And the mother’s attitude is still “Why should we have to leave our neighbourhood?”. Great, so the rest of us have to spend billions, rather than you moving to Devizes.

    No need to involve the residents of Devizes, just return Ms. Rosamund Kissi-Debrah and her family of “canaries living in a coalmine” back to her native Ghana.

    Then again, it would be hard to pursue her “asthma” grift from Ghana.

    However, on the plus side for UK taxpayers, it would be harder for her to pursue her “asthma” grift from Ghana.

  9. John Galt hits the nail on the head – of course, cutting her off from legal aid (and also that other idiot ‘pollution killed my kid not the carbon monoxide from the floodwater pump I was running indoors’) would be just as effective.

  10. I found the inclusion of Mauritius interesting, because the last time I was there they were burning the wastes after harvesting sugar cane. There were clouds of black smoke, as you’d expect, but it had the divine scent of freshly-made toffee!

  11. Ed Snack
    Just spent 12 years living in New Zealand’s rural South Canterbury. Each year, post harvest, the fields were burned off. The smoke went on for weeks. The local authorities knew, after all they could see if for miles, and did nowt about it. And so it was across the entire Plains.

    Ditto the protracted burning of tree stumps from felled trees. Commonplace throughout the year. And damn annoying. They smouldered for weeks.

    We did have an episode when council “fire police” monitored our house chimneys in winter with big torches. But it was short lived as rate payers made clear what would happen at the next election. I used to burn my way through 10-12 “meters” of eucalypt each winter.

    The sight of a curtain of smoke held in place by an inversion layer, creeping along the feet of the Alps was tres picturesque from autumn on.

  12. Bloke in Pictland

    Australia, New Zealand: Southern Hemisphere where there are damned few people or factories.

    Iceland, Mauritius: far north and on mid-Atlantic ridge; centre of Indian Ocean.

    Estonia, Finland: north of the main industrial belts of USA/Canada; Western Europe; Korea, Japan, China.

    So the winner is – Grenada. Only a cynic would wonder whether their measurements are accurate.

  13. I used to live just outside Whitehaven in Cumbria and would drive into town past a council housing estate called Mirehouse. This was mainly inhabited by miners working at the nearby Haig Pit.each miner had a ton of coal delivered regularly and the method of delivery was to simply tip each ton on the road outside the miners house for them to remove in their own time. Great care had to taken when driving through the estate as black heaps are difficult to spot in a dark road at night. Most of the houses had coal fires and in the winter on a cold still day there was a thick blanket of smoke hanging over the estate. Then came the sale of council houses and most people bought theirs.It was easy to tell the privately owned ones as the first thing almost all of them did was to change the front doors to show they were now privately owned. They also had gas fired central heating installed and so the smoke was gone.

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