The Los Angeles Basin has the most polluted air out of more than 2,400 U.S. cities analyzed in a report released this week by an air-quality monitoring firm, despite the city showing 6-percent pollution decrease in 2021 compared to the previous year.
Air pollution globally degraded to unhealthy levels in 2021, according to the report by IQAir, a company that tracks global air quality and markets air-purification systems. The report found that pollution in every country, and in 97 percent of cities, exceeded the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines.
“It is a shocking fact that no major city or country is providing safe and healthy air to their citizens according to the latest World Health Organization air quality guidelines,” Frank Hammes, CEO of IQAir, said in a statement. “This report underscores just how much work remains to be done to ensure that everyone has safe, clean and healthy air to breathe. The time for action is now.”
According to the report, the five most polluted countries in 2021 were Bangladesh, Chad, Pakistan, Tajikistan and India. The United States ranked 90th on the list.
The report noted that U.S. air quality has generally improved over the past 50 years, fine-particle pollution actually increased nationally by 7 percent between 2020 and 2021.
“The country’s reliance on fossil fuels, increasing severity of wildfires as well as varying enforcement of the Clean Air Act from administration to administration have all added to U.S. air pollution,” according to the report.
The report found that worldwide, only 222 cities of the 6,475 analyzed met the WHO standards for fine-particle pollution. The French territory of New Caledonia, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands met the guidelines.
“We understand better than ever before how air pollution damages our health and economies,” Greenpeace India Campaign manager Avinash Chanchal said in a statement released with the report. “This report is a wakeup call, revealing how people worldwide are denied access to clean air. Breathing clean air should be a basic human right, not a privilege.”