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30 Countries With The Best Air Quality In The World

In this article, we will discuss 30 countries with the best air quality in the world. If you want to skip our discussion on the impact of air pollution globally, you can go directly to the 5 Countries With The Best Air Quality In The World.

Air pollution poses one of the greatest environmental risks to public health and is responsible for many deaths each year. Air pollution is directly linked to respiratory and cardiac health issues that can prove to be fatal. Approximately 92% of the world's population is exposed to unhealthy air quality. Globally, poor air quality leads to around 93 billion days of illness annually and contributes to more than six million deaths. This issue imposes a substantial economic burden, surpassing $8 trillion dollars, which exceeds 6.1% of the world's annual GDP.

The harmful pollutants in the air pose a greater risk to children’s health as their immune systems are weaker than those of adults. According to Unicef, air pollution accounts for 20% of newborn deaths worldwide. Beyond its threat to children, air pollution poses substantial risks to public health worldwide. People with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma and heart disease are more sensitive to the accumulation of pollutants in the air. According to Our World in Data, air pollution is responsible for 11.65% of the deaths occurring every year. Air pollution is also one of the leading causes of climate change, which has wreaked havoc across the globe and has led to humanitarian emergencies due to famine, drought, wildfires, and floods. According to WHO, 3.6 billion people already live in highly vulnerable areas to climate emergencies. Lahore, Pakistan, has the worst air quality in the world today. Meanwhile, according to IQ Air, Chad was the most polluted country in the world in 2022.

Numerous countries and organizations have proactively undertaken measures to enhance air quality within their regions and globally. These include Denmark, Sweden, and Chile, which have taken the necessary action to develop climate strategies to combat the effects of global warming. Australia elected a pro-climate-action government that immediately got down to brass tacks to tackle the root cause of air pollution and climate change. Their initiatives include setting emissions targets of a 43% reduction from 2005 levels by the year 2030 and allocating additional funds to support the transition to renewable energy. These factors contributed to Australia being ranked in the top 10 countries with the best air quality in the world in 2022. You can also read about the 25 Cleanest Countries In the World In 2023 here.

In addition to governmental initiatives, various private organizations are diligently combatting climate change to foster a healthier planet for future generations. Companies such as First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR), Eversource Energy (NYSE:ES), and NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) actively contribute to environmental preservation through innovative solutions. Here’s what Madison Investments said about NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) in its Q3 2023 investor letter:

“Although NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) reported an in-line second quarter, the stock has been weak primarily because of rising interest rates. NextEra also reported slower renewables backlog growth than expected. We do not view this as an issue as we expect the development pipeline timeline may not be as predictable as investors would like. The environment for renewables remains favorable both from a demand perspective as well as cost perspective.”

Countries With The Best Air Quality In The World
Countries With The Best Air Quality In The World

FamVeld/Shutterstock.com

Our Methodology

To shortlist the 30 countries with the best air quality in the world, we referred to various reputable sources, including the World Economics Environmental Factors and IQ Air. The countries have been ranked in ascending order of the PM2.5 concentration levels as of 2022. The average acceptable concentration of PM2.5 regarded by the World Health Organization is between 0 to 5 μg/m³. Amongst all air pollutants, PM2.5 has been claimed to be the most hazardous to human health. Due to its negligible size, this particle can penetrate deep within a human's respiratory system, resulting in short-term and long-term health complications. Combustion of fossil fuel leads to much of the production of PM2.5 in the air. The lower the concentration of the pollutant in the air, the higher a country ranks on our list.

Countries With The Best Air Quality In The World

30. Switzerland

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 10

Total Population = 8,818,805

Switzerland has secured the thirtieth position on our list of countries with the best air quality in the world. The air quality in the country has significantly improved since the eighties due to effective government policies.

29. Ukraine

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 9.7

Total Population = 37,277,151

In the initial months of 2021, Ukraine was undergoing a phase of air quality categorized as "Moderate," with a US AQI reading of 60. This aligns with the values recommended by the WHO.

28. Japan

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 9.1

Total Population = 125,681,593

Japan generally has good air quality, but in some urban areas, air pollution can be a concern. The Japanese government has been working to improve air quality by setting standards and regulations, which has led to an improvement in air quality since 2018. 

27. Panama

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 9

Total Population = 4,351,267

Panama is a Central American country known for its modern infrastructure. The air quality is generally acceptable for most people. Air pollution does not pose a risk to residents’ lives, but growing urbanization may lead to a drop in air quality in the future. 

26. USA

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 8.9

Total Population = 331,893,745

The Environmental Protection Agency in America has passed various bills and legislations to curb air pollution, but 36% of Americans still live in places with poor air quality. 

25. Nicaragua

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 8.9

Total Population = 6,850,540

Air quality in Nicaragua fluctuates depending on factors such as urbanization and traffic. The government has taken measures to keep the air clean, but the impact of these effects varies across the nation.

 24. United Kingdom

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 8.9

Total Population = 67,326,569

While the United Kingdom ranks much higher than most countries on the air quality spectrum, air pollution is still one of the biggest environmental health risks in the country. 

23. Angola

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 8.8 

Total Population = 34,503,774

Angola is an African country with fair air quality. However, Angola is still susceptible to air pollution, and the air quality in the country may change based on traffic emissions and weather changes.

22. Denmark

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 8.6 

Total Population = 5,856,733

Denmark is a Scandinavian country that generally enjoys good air quality. However, some environmental concerns in the country include nitrogen fallout in rural and marine areas.

21. Cambodia

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 8.3

Total Population = 16,589,023

Cambodia’s air quality varies between the urban and rural areas. While the rural areas enjoy fresh, high-quality air, the urban centers may be subject to air pollution due to traffic and industrial activity.

20. Liechtenstein

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 8.3 

Total Population = 39,039

Owing to its small size and low population density, Liechtenstein enjoys high-quality air and low air pollution. It is mostly covered in greenery and is home to a variety of diverse fauna and flora.

19. Portugal

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 8.1 

Total Population = 10,325,147

Portugal is a southern European country that mostly enjoys high air quality. Its strategic location by the ocean has been quite beneficial for the country, which has a great diversity of natural landscapes.

18. Costa Rica

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 7.9

Total Population = 5,153,957

Costa Rica generally has good air quality due to its commitment to environmental conservation, but urban areas may experience challenges from traffic emissions leading to air pollution.

17. Argentina 

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 7.7 

Total Population = 45,808,747

Argentina is the second-largest country in South America, and it enjoys good air quality. The country's vast natural landscape combats the pollutants in the air, resulting in fresh air that poses little to no health risk.

16. Ireland

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 7.5 

Total Population = 5,033,165

Ireland typically experiences good air quality owing to its low population density and proactive measures in addressing environmental issues.

15. Luxembourg

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 7.4 

Total Population = 640,064

The air quality in Luxembourg is generally acceptable by most people. It does not pose serious health risks; however, sensitive individuals may experience discomfort from long-term exposure to pollutants.

14. Canada

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 7.4 

Total Population = 38,246,108

Canada generally maintains good air quality, but conditions can vary across regions, especially with the onset of wildfires across the country in the past nine months.

13. Bolivia

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 7.3 

Total Population = 12,079,472

Bolivia enjoys a natural landscape and low population density that landed it in the top 20 countries with the best air quality. However, urbanization of cities poses a risk of poorer air quality in the future.

12. Suriname

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 7.0 

Total Population = 612,985

Situated in South America, Suriname's air quality is subject to multiple factors. Urban areas, notably the capital city Paramaribo, may encounter air quality challenges, especially in regions with elevated levels of traffic or industrial emissions. However, the low population density helps maintain high air quality.

11. Norway

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 7.0

Total Population = 5,408,320

Norway typically has good air quality. Similar to Sweden, Norway benefits from a combination of low population density and strict environmental regulations. The country's commitment to sustainable practices and renewable energy sources contributes to cleaner air.

10. Sweden

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 6.2 

Total Population = 10,415,811

Sweden generally enjoys good air quality due to low population density and stringent environmental regulations exercised by the government.

9. Belize

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 5.6 

Total Population = 400,031

Belize, situated in Central America, boasts diverse ecosystems such as coastal areas, forests, and Mayan Mountain ranges. Overall, the country maintains good air quality; however, major urban centers like Belize City may face occasional air quality concerns.

8. Andorra

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 5.4 

Total Population = 79,034

Andorra, a small principality in the eastern Pyrenees between France and Spain, generally enjoys a clean environment due to its small population and limited industrial activities. However, air quality can be affected by factors like traffic emissions and regional pollution.

7. Trinidad & Tobago

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 5.1 

Total Population = 1,525,663

Trinidad & Tobago has satisfactory air quality, and air pollution does not pose a significant risk to its population. However, some urban areas within the region may grapple with air pollution.

6. Finland

PM2.5 Concentration (μg/m³) = 5 

Total Population = 5,541,017

Finland generally has good air quality. The country is known for its commitment to environmental protection and has implemented measures to control air pollution. However, air quality can vary depending on factors such as industrial activities, traffic, and seasonal deviations.

Parallel to Finland's commitment to sustainable practices, companies such as First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR), Eversource Energy (NYSE:ES), and NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) are also actively advancing environmental preservation through the implementation of innovative solutions.

Click to continue reading and see the 5 Countries With The Best Air Quality In The World.

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Disclosure: None. 30 Countries With The Best Air Quality In The World is originally published on Insider Monkey.

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