Ranked: Air Pollution by Economy

This post is by Jenna Ross from Visual Capitalist

The following content is sponsored by The Hinrich Foundation
Air pollution by economy

Ranked: Air Pollution by Economy

Global air pollution declined by 31% during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, demonstrating a link between economic activity and air quality.

This graphic from The Hinrich Foundation, the fourth in a five-part series on the sustainability of trade, explores how air pollution varies by economy. It pulls data from the 2022 Sustainable Trade Index, which The Hinrich Foundation produced in collaboration with the IMD World Competitiveness Center.

What is Air Pollution?

In this dataset, air pollution is measured using fine particulate matter known as PM2.5. These particles are less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which is about 28 times smaller than the diameter of human hair. They are made up of things like combustion particles, compounds, and metals.

Not only does their presence cause the air to become hazy, they also pose the greatest health risk compared with any other pollutant. When they are inhaled into the lungs, they can cause respiratory diseases and even death. In fact, air pollution is one of the world’s leading risk factors for death, and is linked to 12% of deaths globally. 

A Geographic Breakdown of Pollution

Air pollution levels have a wide spectrum around the world. Countries with lower GDP per capita tend to have higher pollution because they have less stringent air quality regulations, congested (Read more...)