The one commodity which every country on Mother Earth simultaneously shares is air. Air polluting countries may be separated by distance, but this vital resource connects every living creature at every moment.
Given this fact, this natural resource should be at the forefront of our minds. However, there are actions taking place in every corner of Mother Earth where humans are polluting the air. In fact, if you go online, you’ll find many statistics that point to this looming issue with air polluting countries.
We must forever continue fighting to improve it and always thinking about ways to protect it as air impacts all elements of life on mother earth. Again, the enemy of this fight is one simple yet dangerous term: Air Pollution.
Bonus! Scroll down for infographic.
What is Air Pollution?
According to the World Health Organization, 9 out of 10 people on the face of the earth are commonly breathing air that is polluted. Air pollution simply refers to any contamination of mother earth’s natural air. As you will learn, there are many air polluting countries who contribute to this.
Physical, biological, or chemical contamination of the air of any kind is considered air pollution. This includes everything from unnaturally developed dust particles to harmful gases in smoke emitted from oil refineries. These and other types of air pollution impact life on mother earth for all humans, plants, and animals.
How does Air Pollution affect us?
The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) discovered that air pollution causes three times more deaths than tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS combined. In certain countries where the amount of air pollution is extremely high, this vicious killer is responsible for 1 out of every 4 deaths. Other ailments commonly attributed to air pollution are respiratory infections, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and kidney disease.
As one might imagine, a small handful of air polluting countries are responsible for a large amount of the world’s air pollution. Here is a list of air polluting countries in the world who are at the top of the list for air pollution. This list was comprised by comparing countries that consistently emit the highest levels of primary pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere.
Additional factors were included to determine the amount of air pollution in metric tons emitted per capita. The air polluting countries are listed in order from the lowest contributor of air pollution to greatest.
Top 10 Air Polluting Countries on Mother Earth
#10. France: 4.38 Metric Tons
In 2019, France reportedly breached set limits for the immersion of nitrogen dioxide in a dozen regions within the country. An agency that monitors air quality in France cited three primary causes for the 4.38 tons of air pollution emitted into the atmosphere.
The first is transportation. Adverse traffic conditions in France have led to an excessive number of automobiles sitting on the road for long periods of time emitting exhaust fumes. The second is production plants. There are several chemical industries based in France whose production processes emit large amounts of air pollution.
Lastly, heating units in businesses and homes are also responsible. Most businesses and homes in France utilize gas-burning furnaces. However, the good news is, the government of France has set a very aggressive agenda to deal with air pollution caused by these three culprits. We will soon see if the steps they’ve taken are enough to make an impact.
#9. Italy: 5.37 Metric Tons
Several cities in Northern Italy are said to have the worst air pollution in the continent of Europe. With 5.37 Tons of nitrogen dioxide, air pollution has been an alarming issue in Italy for over a decade. Reports show that Italy suffers from “particle” air pollution the most.
Particle air pollution is formed when a mixture of solid particles from fire, chemicals, or some other air pollutant mixes with water droplets and remains suspended in the air. Particle air pollution is particularly troubling because it is at the root of many air pollution-related conditions including breathing trouble, heart disease, whooping cough, and death.
To address the issue, many cities in Italy containing popular tourist attractions have begun asking visitors and tourist to leave their car outside of the city. If this strategy is effective, it will keep a good number of cars off the road.
#8. United Kingdom: 5.65 Metric Tons
The United Kingdom has a larger number of diesel-powered vehicles on the road than any other country on this list. This fact is are a major contributor to the UK’s 5.65 tons of air pollution. European courts have cited the UK on multiple occasions for having air pollution above the legal limits over the past decade. Specifically, nitrogen dioxide pollution has remained increasingly high, again, due to the number of diesel-fueled engines.
Laws in the UK dictated that the UK address the problem of air pollution in the shortest time possible. However, studies prove that the UK has made very little progress in the past few years. As a result of their failure to comply, the UK now faces large penalties enforced by the European Commission.
#7. China: 6.57 Metric Tons
China is #7 on this list with 6.57 metric tons of toxic air pollution. However, in terms of carbon dioxide emissions alone, China is the #1 emitter in the world. This is also true for the emission of other greenhouse gases such as mercury. China is the leading emitter of gases that are specifically responsible for the global health of people.
According to a medical journal published in “Lancet”, over a million Chinese die every year due to exposure to toxic levels of air pollution. State Secretary Michael Pompeo stated that the excess in air pollution is due to the Chinese economy’s disregard to issues concerning land, air, and sea conditions.
China’s President has responded by publicly declaring war on air pollution. His plan is to engage China’s energy sector to develop new sources of energy and to implement new methods of air pollution control. The President is committing his country to achieve carbon-neutral status within the next 40-years.
#6. Germany: 8.88 Metric Tons
Germany is #6 on the list of air polluters by the metric ton, and also #6 on the list of greenhouse gas emitters. There are several primary causes of Germany’s problem with air pollution. Just as with many other countries, traffic is their largest contributor. Power stations in Germany also play a big part in the problem. And the burning of fossil fuels to heat businesses and homes is another key factor.
But at the heart of Germany’s air pollution concerns is the unique issue of a lack of forestation. Germany frequently experiences many sandstorms and forest fires which greatly decreases the countries ability to combat air pollution. They would have to increase their rate of forestation to replenish their natural resource. But to date, this needed increase has not been recorded.
Germany has made one positive step. Their government has established a clean-air program which has run for the last few years. It has provided billions of euros to cities, towns, and communities to battle the air pollution caused by diesel-based transportation. Germany has also launched new mandates to reduce emissions nationally within the next 10 years.
#5. Japan: 9.04 Metric Tons
Japan, with its population of over 37 million residents has thankful already takes its problem with air pollution seriously. As far back as the 70’s Japan reported that particle pollution levels were becoming dangerously high resulting in a high rate of pollution-related sicknesses. This was due to the amount of industrialization which was taking place during that decade. The burning of coal and wood had drastically increased. Also, fossil fuel had quickly become the primary source of fuel for transportation.
Today, Japan has recently had its national rating in air pollution upgraded by the World Health Organization due to efforts by their government to bring air pollution levels down.
#4. Russia: 9.97 Metric Tons
#4 on the list for the emitter of carbon dioxide in millions of kilotons (kt), Russia is another country that makes the list as one of the worlds top air polluting countries, but also has received a recent upgrade from World Health Organization. While still emitting 9.97 tons of toxic air pollution, Russia’s rating has risen from “Fair” to “Good” for total air quality based on figures taken in recent years.
The primary source of Russia’s air pollution is its mining industry in combination with vehicle emissions. As a result, Russia’s Council for Human Rights has come up with additional proposals aimed at the mining and transportation industries to further reduce their toxic emissions. Proposals include designated zones reserved for low vehicle emissions in many of Russia’s major cities.
#3. South Korea: 11.5 Metric Tons
South Korea, emitting 11.5 metric tons of toxic air pollution was rated as having the worst air among the 35 richest countries in the world. However, South Korea’s ministry of the environment noted that air pollution technology makes up over 5% of the environmental technology market. Their air pollution control sector is the largest sector of environmental technology by far.
In addition, U.S. environmental equipment technology companies who are aware of the regulatory challenges in the market have recently been partnering with South Korean companies. This partnership should produce breakthroughs in environmental technology that can help South Korea solve the problem.
#2. Canada: 14.91 Metric Tons
Of all the countries on this list, Canada produces the lowest amount of greenhouse-specific gases such as carbon dioxide. However, with 14.91 metric tons of air pollution, Canada is near the top of the list of toxic air pollution emitters. Air pollution produced by Canadian industrial, agricultural, and vehicular industries have impacted Canada’s air and water. And officials have recorded the health risks posed by air pollution in Canada for years.
A recent study showed that companies in Canada have contributed 73% more air pollution than companies within the same industry in the United States. However, both Canada and the United States have been partnering for over a decade to tackle the problem. They’ve determined that cross-boundary pollution will continue to be detrimental to the natural resources of both countries if both don’t aggressively address the issue of air pollution.
#1. United States: 14.95 Metric Tons
The NUMBER ONE contributor of primary air pollutants to the environment is the United States of America. According to a Washington Post article, air pollution has worsened in the U.S. for half a decade straight. Analytic companies often paint a different picture of air quality in America by singling out one or two pollutants where emissions have been reduced to represent the U.S. as a leader in the fight against air pollution. But the truth is, the United States has an equal amount of work to do in the fight against air pollution as the rest of the countries on this list.
Being the number 1 contributor to toxic air pollution carries a whole host of related public health issues. According to research conducted by Carnegie University, 10,000 deaths in a single year have been linked to the worsening air quality in the United States.
However, the existence of higher standards in air quality set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) represents a positive future for the country. Thanks to the EPA, air pollution rates, while being the highest on this list are lower than they were prior to 1971 before the agency’s establishment.
Ways Air Polluting Countries Can Help Solve the Problem of Air Pollution
The governments of every country on this list, for the most part, claim to be engaged in the battle to fight air pollution. However, waiting on governments to act usually proves to be a fruitless solution to any problem. Here are just a few things you can do to help fight air pollution.
⎆ Use public transportation.
Fewer cars on the road mean fewer toxic fumes emitting from tailpipes.
⎆ Become a recycler.
Recycling is such an old concept, yet it is more important today than at any other time in history. Being a recycler means you primarily use recycled products, then you recycle the products you’ve used.
⎆ No more garbage burns.
It is common in many states to collect garbage or dried leaves and burn them in large compost fires. However, these garbage burns are a very big contributing factor to air pollution.
⎆ Lastly, participate in Afforestation.
Plants and trees are mother earth’s own solution to the air pollution humans cause. But we can’t stand by passively… we’ve got to help. Afforestation is the process of planting trees and building forests to replace those which once stood. Contribute to the effort of planting as much vegetation and forestation as possible.
Air Polluting Countries Must Heed the Warnings!
Air pollution is a subject that we simply cannot avoid or ignore. Mother earth has taken care of human beings for millennia. It is time for us to now turn our attention and all our effort towards her. If we don’t heed this warning, the death and ailments caused by air pollution will increase. And ultimately, mankind’s existence as a people will reach its end.
Tip o’ the hat to: EPA GOV