How does a country’s developmental status affect ambient air quality with respect to particulate matter?
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Ambient particulate matter pollution is a serious threat to public health, the global economy and the wider environment. Recent World Health Organisation figures show 92% of the world lives in an area that exceeds the organization’s air quality guideline. Between 87 and 90% of all deaths from air pollution occur in Low–Middle-Income Countries (subcategorised as Least Developed Countries, Less Economically Developed Countries and Newly Industrialising Countries in this study), potentially showing a relationship between effects of air pollution and development. This research investigates how the developmental levels of a country can play a key role in determining its air pollution, with a focus on Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5) pollution. Results from primary and secondary literature collected between 2009 and 2017 show that PM10 and PM2.5 pollution concentrations were higher in countries with less development, with the highest levels found in Less Economically Developed Countries, and the least found in More Economically Developed Countries/High Income Countries. There is also exceedingly high levels reported in air from NICs and the Least Developed Country used in this study. In accordance with this finding, the highest observed PM10 level was 592 μg/m3 in Onitsha, Nigeria. The highest deaths per capita were found in a NIC, China. Other important factors in determining PM levels included geographical location and natural sources of PMs. PM pollution increases between countries with different developmental levels were noted to be correlated to a number of socio-economic factors, as represented by the Human Development Index.
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