BY Azlan Othman
BRUNEI Darussalam has been ranked as having the second least polluted urban areas by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a study measuring ambient air pollution in 1,622 locations across 92 countries.
Of the 92 countries included in the analysis, Australia has the least polluted urban areas, followed by Brunei and New Zealand. Estonia is Europe’s top performing nation, followed by Finland and Iceland.
Brunei continues to grab the world’s attention with its reputation for air cleanliness.
The Sultanate is among a number of countries having healthy or low air pollution levels, according to a report published by the United States (US) Health Effects Institute in April this year.
The report found that 95 per cent of the world’s population is exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution, noting that 95 per cent of humans live in locations where the outdoor air have particulate matter (PM) concentrations above WHO air quality guidelines of 10 microgrammes per square metre.
Almost 60 per cent live in areas where particulate matter exceeds even WHO’s less-strict transitional guidelines of 35 microgrammes per square metre.
The report additionally found that the highest concentrations of air pollution, weighted for population, are in North Africa, West Africa and the Middle East.
The next highest concentrations are in South Asia. The countries with the healthiest air are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden and countries in the Pacific Islands.
Overall, global air pollution has gone up by 18 per cent between 2010 and 2016.
Brunei is also gaining more feathers to add to its cap thanks to its superior water quality, which is among the cleanest and safest on the planet.
Pollution-related deaths in the ‘Abode of Peace’ are also among the lowest among countries included in a Lancet Commission report on pollution and health published in October last year, with the Sultanate standing alongside Sweden.
The report, the first attempt to examine the cumulative impact of all forms of pollution on death and disease and published in The Lancet medical journal recently, also indicated that a total of nine million deaths in 2015 (roughly one in every six person) were linked to pollution.
Most of the deaths were found to be due to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Air pollution, meanwhile, was found to be the largest contributor to early death by far, accounting for 6.5 million fatalities in 2015. Water pollution – responsible for 1.8 million deaths – and workplace-related pollution (0.8 million) are also ranked among the most significant mortality risks.
The five countries topping the Lancet rankings are Brunei Darussalam, Sweden, Finland, Barbados and New Zealand, according to the report. The findings additionally noted that 2.7 per cent of deaths in Brunei were estimated to be linked to pollution, compared to 3.8 per cent in Sweden, 4.5 per cent in Finland, 4.9 per cent in Barbados, and five per cent in New Zealand.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin