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Mapped: Air Pollution Levels Around the World in 2022

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Mapped: Air Pollution Levels Around the World in 2022

Mapped: Air Pollution Levels Around the World

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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that air pollution leads to 7 million premature deaths every year.

Out of the six common air pollutants, particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns or smaller in diameter, or PM2.5, is accepted as the most harmful to human health. This is due to its prevalence in the atmosphere and the broad range of adverse health effects associated with its exposure, such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.

With that context in mind, this visualization uses IQAir’s World Air Quality Report to map out the 2022 average PM2.5 concentrations in select major cities around the globe, expressed in micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m³).

Understanding the WHO Air Pollution Guidelines

Did you know that in 2019, only 1% of the global population lived in places where WHO global air quality guidelines were met?

Designed to protect public health from the harmful effects of air pollution, the guidelines cover a range of air pollutants, including particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

The healthy limits for PM2.5 are set at an annual average of 0-5 μg/m³.

WHO Classification Annual Average PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³)% of countries within classification, 2022*
WHO Air Quality Guideline0 - 5 9.9%
Interim Target 45.1 - 10 18.3%
Interim Target 310.1 - 15 19.8%
Interim Target 215.1 - 25 28.2%
Interim Target 125.1 - 359.9%
Exceeds Target Levels 35.1 - 50 7.6%
Exceeds Target Levels> 50 6.1%

*Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the 131 countries that had sufficient air quality data and were included in IQAir’s World Air Quality Report in 2022.

According to IQAir’s World Air Quality Report, only 13 countries or territories met the recommended concentration of PM2.5 in 2022. Among them were Australia, Finland, Puerto Rico, Iceland, Bermuda, and Guam.

Above this guideline, many countries fell within the four interim targets, while nearly 14% recorded air pollution levels that exceeded all target levels.

The Effects of Air Quality on Mortality

While it can be a little difficult to grasp what the above concentrations represent, thinking of them in terms of their effect on mortality can shed some light on their significance.

According to the WHO, non-accidental mortality rates multiply by 1.08 per 10 µg/m³ increase in PM2.5 concentration, but only up to 35 μg/m³. Above that, mortality growth rates may not be linear, resulting in many more deaths.

Here is an example to highlight what that means.

  • Say that, for a population living within the WHO PM2.5 guideline, the non-accidental mortality rate is arbitrarily set to 100 deaths for a given period.
  • If this area’s PM2.5 concentration goes up to 10 μg/m³, putting them at Interim Target 4, they would see 104 deaths in that same amount of time.
  • At Interim Target 3, where their PM2.5 concentration would be 15 μg/m³, they would see 108 deaths.
  • At Interim Target 2, they’d see 117.
  • Finally, at Interim Target 1, they’d see 126.

Beyond Interim Target 1 (above 35 μg/m³), deaths would potentially grow much faster. As of 2022, around 14% of countries report levels above this threshold, including Chad, India, Pakistan, Qatar, and Nigeria.

The State of Air Pollution Around the World

While many cities in North America and Europe have seen steady and relatively lower PM2.5 concentrations during the last few years, many cities (especially those in Asia) have been making strides in lowering their air pollution levels.

Nonetheless, many of them still record PM2.5 concentrations that are more than six times the WHO guideline.

City2022 annual average PM2.5 concentration (μg/m³)2018 annual average PM2.5 concentration (μg/m³)
🇪🇬 Cairo, Egypt47.4N/A
🇮🇳 Mumbai, India46.758.6
🇦🇪 Dubai, UAE43.755.3
🇮🇩 Jakarta, Indonesia36.245.3
🇳🇬 Lagos, Nigeria36.1N/A
🇨🇳 Beijing, China29.850.9
🇵🇪 Lima, Peru25.628
🇲🇽 Mexico City, Mexico22.119.7
🇨🇳 Guangzhou, China21.333.2
🇵🇭 Manila, Philippines14.6N/A
🇦🇷 Buenos Aires, Argentina14.212.4
🇸🇬 Singapore, Singapore 13.314.8
🇮🇹 Rome, Italy12.6N/A
🇰🇪 Nairobi, Kenya11.5N/A
🇷🇺 Moscow, Russia10.810.1
🇧🇷 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil10.6N/A
🇺🇸 Los Angeles, USA10.514.4
🇺🇸 New York, USA9.9N/A
🇬🇧 London, UK9.612
🇯🇵 Tokyo, Japan9.213.1
🇨🇦 Toronto, Canada8.57.8
🇨🇦 Vancouver, Canada7.6N/A
🇳🇴 Oslo, Norway6.98.2
🇿🇦 Cape Town, South Africa 6.7N/A
🇺🇸 Miami, USA 6.47.8
🇦🇺 Perth, Australia 4.9N/A
🇦🇺 Sydney, Australia3.17.6

Most parts of the world did not meet the annual WHO recommendation for clean and healthy air in 2022.

However, the cost of inaction toward cleaner air is very high. In addition to the millions of premature deaths each year, the global cost of health damages associated with air pollution currently sits at $8.1 trillion.

Unfortunately, things that are integral to our quality of life, such as industrial activities, transportation, energy production, and agricultural practices, are also the leading causes of air pollution around the world.

As such, a multi-faceted approach to lowering pollution is essential to protect lives, especially to benefit those already more vulnerable to poor air quality, such as kids and the elderly.

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Agriculture

The World’s Top Cocoa Producing Countries

Here are the largest cocoa producing countries globally—from Côte d’Ivoire to Brazil—as cocoa prices hit record highs.

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This tree map graphic shows the world's biggest cocoa producers.

The World’s Top Cocoa Producing Countries

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

West Africa is home to the largest cocoa producing countries worldwide, with 3.9 million tonnes of production in 2022.

In fact, there are about one million farmers in Côte d’Ivoire supplying cocoa to key customers such as Nestlé, Mars, and Hershey. But the massive influence of this industry has led to significant forest loss to plant cocoa trees.

This graphic shows the leading producers of cocoa, based on data from the UN FAO.

Global Hotspots for Cocoa Production

Below, we break down the top cocoa producing countries as of 2022:

Country2022 Production, Tonnes
🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire2.2M
🇬🇭 Ghana1.1M
🇮🇩 Indonesia667K
🇪🇨 Ecuador337K
🇨🇲 Cameroon300K
🇳🇬 Nigeria280K
🇧🇷 Brazil274K
🇵🇪 Peru171K
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic76K
🌍 Other386K

With 2.2 million tonnes of cocoa in 2022, Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer, accounting for a third of the global total.

For many reasons, the cocoa trade in Côte d’Ivoire and Western Africa has been controversial. Often, farmers make about 5% of the retail price of a chocolate bar, and earn $1.20 each day. Adding to this, roughly a third of cocoa farms operate on forests that are meant to be protected.

As the third largest producer, Indonesia produced 667,000 tonnes of cocoa with the U.S., Malaysia, and Singapore as major importers. Overall, small-scale farmers produce 95% of cocoa in the country, but face several challenges such as low pay and unwanted impacts from climate change. Alongside aging trees in the country, these setbacks have led productivity to decline.

In South America, major producers include Ecuador and Brazil. In the early 1900s, Ecuador was the world’s largest cocoa producing country, however shifts in the global marketplace and crop disease led its position to fall. Today, the country is most known for its high-grade single-origin chocolate, with farms seen across the Amazon rainforest.

Altogether, global cocoa production reached 6.5 million tonnes, supported by strong demand. On average, the market has grown 3% annually over the last several decades.

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