• Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons
    Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons

The world’s air is getting dirtier, according to new data from the World Health Organization. In the latest urban air quality database, global air pollution levels had reportedly increased by eight per cent between 2008 and 2013.

The data, which included 3000 cities in 103 countries, looked at the concentration of particulate matter as indicators of air pollution levels. Particulate matter is bad for the environment and is also concerning from a health perspective because it can cause heart disease, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases.

Two of the most polluted cities according to the data were Onitsha, Nigeria and Zabol, Iran, where recorded levels of particulate matters were significantly higher than the guidelines set by the World Health Organization.

However Canada’s results were much more optimistic.

Out of the 125 Canadian cities included in the database, only four hit particulate matter levels higher than the World Health Organization guidelines. Several places had extremely low levels including Norman Wells, N.W.T., which had a PM2.5 of only 3 μg/m3 and a PM10 of only 5 μg/m3., making it the third cleanest in the world.

Canada falls into the America high income region, as categorized by The World Health Organization, a region that has seen more than a five per cent decrease in particulate matter levels over the past five years.

While this data paints a picture of low air pollution levels in Canada, particulate matter is only one form of pollution. The data didn’t account for other forms which may have shed Canada in a slightly different light, seeing as Canada’s ozone levels exceeded the World Health Organization guideline by 15 parts per billion in 2015.

(Chart: World Health Organization)