Air pollution is a major public health concern worldwide because of its adverse impact on health. It is now the 4th leading risk factor for premature death. It is reported that exposure to air pollution contributed to 6.67 million deaths in 2019 alone. Thus, it is important to know which countries have the highest and lowest morality rate attributable to air pollution.
In a recent study, two scientists in Norway examined the global effect of ambient PM2.5 and ozone pollution on mortality rate across 195 countries and territories between 1990 and 2017. The data were extracted from a database of the OECD. Top 10 countries with the highest and lowest average mortality rates attributable to ambient PM2.5 and ozone pollution were reported in the study (Figure 1).
The top 10 countries with the highest mortality rates attributable to air pollution included Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Czech, Slovakia, and Serbia. All of them are Eastern European countries. China and India, two most populous and polluted countries in the world, are not on the short list, but have the largest numbers of premature deaths due to exposure to ambient PM2.5 and ozone pollution.
Of top 10 countries with the lowest mortality rates attributable to air pollution, seven are in Africa (Libya, Mozambique, Malawi, Mali, Uganda, Madagascar, and Kenya), two in central America (Nicaragua, Honduras), and the remaining one in Southern America (Paraguay). Interestingly, the lowest mortality rates attributable to air pollution do not suggest longer life expectancies in these countries (Figure 2), possibly due to other risk factors such as nutrition, hygiene, etc.
The highest average mortality rate attributable to air pollution was observed in Ukraine, which is 20 times more than the lowest average recorded in Libya. Top 10 countries with the world’s dirtiest and cleanest air during 1990-2017 are introduced in another article.