In 2017 London saw some of the highest levels of pollution ever recorded in the city, prompting the Mayor of London to issue, for the first time, a warning:
Today the shameful state of London’s toxic air has meant that I am forced to trigger the first ‘very high’ air pollution alert under my new comprehensive alert system.
People suffering from respiratory illnesses were also warned not to do any strenuous exercise outside.
This is the highest level of alert and everyone – from the most vulnerable to the physically fit – may need to take precautions to protect themselves from the filthy air.
The most harmful pollutant is called PM 2.5, a particle found in smoke and soot. It can stick to the lungs, causing build up, and the development of long term health problems like chronic lung disease and asthma.
According to the Environment Protection Agency, more than 35.5 micrograms per cubic metre of air can cause problems.
New research by The Eco Experts finds that the UK is fairly average when it comes to pollution, coming in at 81 out of 135 countries.
The study cross-referenced data for energy consumption, carbon emissions, renewable energy contribution, totally energy supply, air pollution levels and the number of deaths caused by poor air quality levels.
Here’s a map of their findings:
Saudi Arabia ranked first with the world’s largest carbon emissions, and the highest recorded levels of pollution – even higher than China. Coming in at second is Kuwait, followed by Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Many parts of Africa, such as Cameroon, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and, Tanzania report very little air pollution.
A closer look at Europe yields interesting results:
Bosnia and Bulgaria have the highest air pollution in Europe, followed closely by the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia.
The UK ranks relatively low by even the standards of Europe, as do France, Spain and Portugal which have some of the lowest records of air pollution.