By Lhowrence Asis


As the world battles through the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, we are set to face another threatening concern: air pollution. 

In a recent study conducted by IQAir, a Swiss pollution technology company, not even a single country, including the Philippines, met the World Health Organization's standards for air quality in 2021. This means that all countries in the world are now lying on the brink of another rising environmental problem.

The WHO air quality standards says that the average annual readings of PM2.5 (hazardous airborne particles) must not exceed beyond 5 micrograms per cubic meter. However, a report from IQAir's study suggests that more than 90 cities around the world have PM2.5 levels 10 times above the recommended level.

Despite this, Christi Schroeder, air quality science manager with IQAir, said that many countries have seen a decrease in air pollution over the years.

However, he also said that a significant number of countries are currently posed in a growing threat. "China started with some very big numbers and they are continuing to decrease over time. But there are also places in the world where it is getting significantly worse."

Data from the report shows that Bangladesh and New Delhi, India are the most polluted 
country and city in the world respectively. Along with them is Pakistan, exceeding WHO's criteria by 10 times. 

On the other hand, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and four other countries, although failing to meet WHO air quality standards, still ranked as the countries with the best air quality. 

Meanwhile, the Philippines ranked 64th among 184 countries, exceeding WHO's guidelines by 3.1 times. According to IQAir's reports, the country is at a moderate level when it comes to air pollution.

Out of 6,475 cities that were studied, only about 222 passed the average air quality based on WHO's guidelines.

As more and more corners in the world are being plagued by air pollution, we are certainly near suffering from its suffocating effects as reports from the same study said that exposure to high levels of PM2.5 induces health risks. Increased COVID-19 susceptibility and more severe symptoms when infected are just two of the mentioned dangers from poor air quality.

This is why Glory Dolphin Hammes, CEO of IQAir North America, encourages the world to resolve this problem as soon as possible. "We've got the report, we can read it, we can internalize it and really devote ourselves to taking action. There needs to be a major move toward renewable energy. We need to take drastic action in order to reverse the tide of global warming; otherwise, the impact and the train that we're on (would be) irreversible," Hammes told CNN.

The world has already lost millions of lives from this pandemic. We can't afford to lose more if this alarming air pollution continues. This can be stopped, but only if we're all willing to cooperate.