environment. Avignon, Romans… the most polluted cities in France are not what you think

Which are the most polluted cities and countries in the world? And what about France? Annual Global Air Quality Report IQAirPublished this Tuesday, it reveals the most – and least – polluted countries and cities in 2023. Air pollution is a cause of nine deaths in the world, recalls the WHO, and it causes serious diseases.

To arrive at these results, IQAir averaged fine particulate matter (PM2.5) measurements carried out by government agencies, universities, non-governmental organizations and research institutes in 7,812 cities across 134 countries. And they compare them with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, which advise not to exceed 5μg/m³. Fine particles come from greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuels.

South Asia ranks first among the most polluted countries

In total, 124 of the 134 countries included in the study violated WHO guidelines. Unsurprisingly, the top three most polluted countries are Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, which have held the top spot for more than five years.

Please note, Africa is under-represented due to lack of access to certified reports. As for the least polluted countries, we find French Polynesia (3.2 μg/m³ fine particles), Mauritius (3.5), Iceland (4), Grenada (4.1) and Bermuda (4.1). Although a French overseas community, Polynesia was considered a “country” by the study because it enjoyed broad political autonomy.

France slightly above recommended levels

What about France? Well, it's in the “could do better” category with 29 other countries: fine particle measurements range from 5.1 to 10 μg/m³. or slightly above the recommended dose. On the list from most polluted to least polluted, France ranks 99the 134 of 9.5 μg/m³ recorded location. France has improved from 2018 when an average of 13.2 μg/m³ was recorded.

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According to IQAir, the most polluted cities in France are not the ones we think. Actually, get out of Paris, Lyon or Marseille: the most polluted… is in Bloemfontein, Morbihan. Paris is in 30e location (10.3 μg/m³), in Lyon 32e (10.2 μg/m³) and in Grenoble 39e (10.1 μg/m³). Mulhouse breathes better (9.2 μg/m³) than Strasbourg (9 μg/m³), Nancy (8.4 μg/m³) or Dijon (6.7 μg/m³).

Canada is experiencing the effects of mega fires

If France advances, it's been a dark year for many countries. Like Canada will be more polluted than the US in 2023. why Canada experienced the worst wildfire season in its history, particularly due to extremely severe drought across much of the country and high temperatures in the north. The effects were felt as far away as the United States, which issued repeated warnings about poor air quality due to the smog. By the end of June, smoke from the fire had even reached France.

South Asia is also affected by the effects of global warming, which exacerbates the lack of environmental policy. Many Italian cities experience significant peaks as the heat intensifies. So in Tarchiarolo, Puglia, a concentration of 128.7 μg/m³ was recorded in the middle of a heat wave in July.

Climate change is exacerbating the impact of fine particles

“Climate change is changing weather patterns. Wind and precipitation are affected, which affects the dispersion and removal of fine particles,” the report underlines. “The impact on air quality will worsen, especially with global temperature increases. In many areas, extreme events of pollution coincide with a heat wave that stagnates the air. These dry and extremely hot periods also amplify wildfires that emit dangerous fine particles over hundreds of kilometers. »

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The report recommends that governments put policies in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is far from most of the most polluted countries.

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