Urban pollution levels across the Commonwealth is decreasing but still dangerously high. Air pollution threatens the health of most city dwellers. In 2017, in all countries except Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, New Zealand the annual mean levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exceeded the World Health Organisation air quality guidelines of 10 micrograms or less per cubic metre.
In the Asia region, the mean level was more than four times and in Africa more than three times the guideline value. The Pacific region performed the best but still slightly above the air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organisation. Positively, however, all countries in Asia, Caribbean and Americas, Europe and the Pacific saw reductions in air population, which were as high as -64.23% in Sri Lanka.
There is still much work to do. Current readings means that across the Commonwealth 9 out of 10 people living in urban areas lacked clean air, and more than half of these people were exposed to air pollution levels at least 2.5 times higher than the safe threshold of particulate matter concentration. Across the world, in 2016, an estimated 4.2 million people died as a result of high levels of ambient air pollution. Air pollution does not recognise borders, and improving air quality demands sustained and coordinated government action at all levels.