Top 10 countries with the dirtiest air

7.Iran: 648 million tons of CO2 per year. The city of Ahvaz in Iran, once the winter residence of Persian kings, is now a major metallurgical center and one of the most polluted cities in the world. For instance, in Moscow the annual average concentration of PM10 (fine particles, which are an important component of air pollution) is 33 µg/m3 and in Ahvaz it sometimes reaches 372 µg/m3. But problems with carbon dioxide emissions are, alas, common throughout Iran. In November 2016, all of the capital's schools were closed because of deadly fumes choking the city. "Deadly" is not a figure of speech here: in 23 days, more than 400 people died from polluted air. In addition to petrochemical industries, which markedly worsen the environment, an important reason for this situation in Iran is sanctions. For the past 38 years since the end of the Islamic Revolution, the people of Iran have been driving old cars with low-quality fuel.

6.Germany: 798 million tons of CO2 per year. Germany's presence on this list is as surprising as Canada's. But don't be fooled: In addition to green fields, a good economy and eco-orientation, Germany has quite a few big cities. For example, Stuttgart is called the "German Beijing" - there is no smog here, but the level of concentration of hazardous particles is quite high. In 2014, for example, particle concentrations exceeded the permissible limit for 64 days, making the air dirtier than in Seoul and Los Angeles combined. Air pollution levels are considered hazardous in 28 areas across the country.

5.Japan: 1,237 million tons of CO2 per year. Japan is the 5th most polluting country in the world, emitting almost twice as much carbon dioxide as South Korea. But all of this is a giant step up from what was going on in the island nation just 50 years ago. Terrible syndromes caused by pollution, such as Minamata disease (heavy metal poisoning), have killed many Japanese. It was not until the 1970s that Japanese authorities began to take steps to live in a cleaner environment. The environmental situation in Japan slightly worsened after the Fukushima accident in 2011: the disaster led to almost all Japanese nuclear power plants being shut down and replaced by coal-fired ones.

4.Russia: 1,617 million tons of CO2 per year. Yes, Moscow sometimes demonstrates particularly dangerous levels of air pollution, but still the fourth position of Russia in the list of countries with the highest CO2 levels in the air is provided by the Chelyabinsk region and industrial cities of Siberia. Novokuznetsk, Angarsk, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, Bratsk and Novosibirsk produce more air emissions than multi-million dollar Moscow. About 6% of all carbon monoxide emissions in Russia are due to the Chelyabinsk region. The city of Karabash in Chelyabinsk Region was declared an ecological disaster area in 1996, and in the media it is often called the most polluted city in the world.

3.India: 2274 million tons of CO2 per year. According to some estimates, air pollution kills about 1.2 million people every year in India. Yes, India has stated a desire for cleaner energy, but whether this is realistic is a big question. While the economy is growing, hundreds of millions of Indians still lack electricity and live in miserable conditions. One of India's major economic achievements in recent years has been the country's reduced dependence on imported coal: by increasing its own coal production, which India has been steadily increasing every year. If we stop this coal mining, the air will become cleaner, but the country will become poorer.

2.The U.S.: 5,414 million tons of CO2 a year. Despite numerous environmental protection programs and green energy developments, the U.S. is still among the leaders in pollution. According to a 2016 report by the American Lung Association, more than half of the country's population breathes air with extremely dangerous levels of pollution. This can be restated as follows: 166 million Americans put themselves at risk of developing asthma, heart disease, and cancer every day because of the air they breathe. The most polluted cities are concentrated in sunny California.

1.China: 10357 million tons of CO2 per year. Japan, Russia, India and the U.S. are adjacent in this ranking, but even when these countries are combined into one, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air does not compare to what happens in China: If air pollution were an Olympic sport, China would lead the medal standings. "Red," the highest, levels of air pollution are not uncommon in many Chinese cities, nor are reports that millions of residents do not leave their homes because of toxic smog. The air situation in China is not getting any better-just in December 2016, concentrations of fine particulate matter PM10 (we talked about them above) exceeded 800 µg/m3. For comparison, the WHO's safe average annual PM10 concentration is 20 µg/m3.

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