Do Most Countries in the World Have Some Sort of Air Quality Standards?

Ally E. Peltier
Ally E. Peltier
China does have air quality standards, but many cities don't meet them.
China does have air quality standards, but many cities don't meet them.

Despite its increasing visibility as a global crisis, air quality standards are not currently monitored or regulated by many countries around the world. In particular, developing nations tend to shy away from air quality standards as the short-term benefits of industrial strength and increased national wealth outweigh the long-term benefits to limiting air pollution.

Pakistan is one of the countries without air quality standards.
Pakistan is one of the countries without air quality standards.

Clean air is a basic requirement for the healthy living of all humans and animals. Unfortunately, many of the fuel sources and another chemicals that humans use to make life simpler and more comfortable are creating a global threat. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) study on diseases caused by air pollution, the burning of solid fuels both outdoors and indoors contribute to more than two million premature deaths each year. More than half of these occur in developing countries, the so-called "Third World."

Air quality standards from the 1980s are still in use in Thailand.
Air quality standards from the 1980s are still in use in Thailand.

A 2006 call-to-action by the WHO notes that studies show a reduction of PM10 levels could reduce deaths in polluted cities by up to 15% annually. PM10 is a pollutant mainly released through the burning of fossil and other types of fuels. The WHO's proposed air quality guidelines are actually much more stringent than the national standards in many countries. Meeting the organization's recommended levels of PM10 and other pollutants could require a country to reduce its current levels by up to three times — a challenge to say the least.

The Middle East lacks proper air quality standards.
The Middle East lacks proper air quality standards.

The national standards that do currently exist vary widely. Asia and the Middle East in particular suffer from a lack of appropriate air quality standards. China utilizes mass quantities of coal, a major source of PM10, as does India. Both of these countries have large populations simultaneously prospering and suffering from the use of fuels that compromise clean air. Worse, air pollution affects neighboring countries as air, obviously, cannot be restricted by borders. Some countries like Thailand and Malaysia are still following air quality standards from the 1980s, and as of 2006 there were no air quality standards set at all in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Lao or Pakistan.

In the U.S., many factories are required to install filtration systems to reduce air pollution.
In the U.S., many factories are required to install filtration systems to reduce air pollution.

Many critics have pointed out that industrial giants and world leaders like the U.S. and Great Britain have the technology and wealth to weather necessary and dramatic changes in air quality standards, but do not do nearly as much as they could to promote clean air efforts.

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Discussion Comments

sputnik

According to Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of gas emissions from cars in United States, has dropped by 54 percent, while at that same time the number of cars has more than doubled. These figures reflect the numbers for the last 30 years, since 1970's.

This same, positive environmental trend seem to be working in Europe also.

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    • China does have air quality standards, but many cities don't meet them.
      By: Franck Thomasse
      China does have air quality standards, but many cities don't meet them.
    • Pakistan is one of the countries without air quality standards.
      By: doglikehorse
      Pakistan is one of the countries without air quality standards.
    • Air quality standards from the 1980s are still in use in Thailand.
      By: IndianSummer
      Air quality standards from the 1980s are still in use in Thailand.
    • The Middle East lacks proper air quality standards.
      By: www.doglikehorse.com
      The Middle East lacks proper air quality standards.
    • In the U.S., many factories are required to install filtration systems to reduce air pollution.
      By: Ulrich Müller
      In the U.S., many factories are required to install filtration systems to reduce air pollution.
    • Many countries around the world do not monitor or regulate air quality standards.
      By: dmitryelagin
      Many countries around the world do not monitor or regulate air quality standards.