According to a study, more than 99 percent of people worldwide are exposed to ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels that are too high for healthy breathing.
Just 0.18 percent of the world’s geographical area and 0.001 percent of its population, according to a study from Monash University in Australia, are exposed to PM2.5 levels below those advised by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The lungs can be reached by particles in the PM2.5 size range that can penetrate far into the respiratory system. Shortness of breath, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation are just a few short-term health impacts that can result from exposure to tiny particles.
According to studies, prolonged exposure to fine particulate matter may also raise the risk of developing chronic bronchitis, diminish lung function, and increase the mortality rate from heart disease and lung cancer.
While daily levels have decreased in Europe and North America over the past two decades, they have climbed in Southern Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, and the Caribbean, with levels above the acceptable range occurring on more than 70% of days worldwide.
According to the researchers, there aren’t enough air pollution monitoring stations in the world, therefore there aren’t any records of local, national, regional, or global exposure to PM2.5.
To more precisely estimate PM2.5 concentrations globally, the team used conventional air quality monitoring observations, satellite-based meteorological and air pollution detectors, statistical, and machine learning algorithms.
Professor Yuming Guo, the study’s principal investigator, said, “In this study, we employed an unique machine learning approach to combine diverse meteorological and geological datasets to estimate the global surface-level daily PM2.5 concentrations at a high spatial resolution.
More than 90% of days in southern and eastern Asia had daily PM2.5 values above the advised levels.
2019 saw a noticeable rise in the number of days with high PM2.5 concentrations in Australia and New Zealand.
North-east China and North India had high PM2.5 concentrations during their winter months (December, January, and February), while eastern portions of northern America had high PM2.5 concentrations during its summer months (June, July, and August), according to Professor Guo.
We also observed rather high PM2.5 air pollution in South America in August and September, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa from June to September.
He continued, “It provides a deep insight of the current status of outdoor air pollution and its implications on human health, which is why the study is significant. With the use of this data, politicians, public health professionals, and researchers may more accurately determine the short- and long-term health effects of air pollution and create measures to mitigate it.
The UK government has been encouraged to add targets for lower concentrations of the air pollutant PM2.5 to the Environment Bill.