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Stockholm air dirtier than Los Angeles: WHO

Joel Linde · 27 Sep 2011, 15:31

Published: 27 Sep 2011 15:31 GMT+02:00

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The recently released WHO figures come from a study conducted predominantly in 2008-09, and has measured the density of PM10 particles in cities around the globe.

PM10 is a collective name for particles smaller than 10 micrometers in size, which can therefore penetrate the body and harm inner organs, causing for example asthma, heart decease and lung cancer.

The amount is measured in µg/m3, meaning micrograms per cubic meter of air.

The WHO study showed that the people of Whitehorse in Canada breathe the cleanest air, with only 3 µg/m3, whereas the figure for the Swedish capital Stockholm is 28. That is 8 µg over the recommended average.

Malmö is ranked as Sweden’s cleanest city out of the four measured, and the only one under the recommended average, with 18 µg/m3. On the same level is also Nottingham, Monaco and New Orleans.

Next is Umeå with 22 µg/m3, which compares to Chicago, Oslo and Geneva.

Gothenburg at 24 µg/m3 equals Marbella and Amsterdam, and Stockholm is found having the same air quality as Costa Rica’s San Jose, Thailand’s Phuket and Brussels in Belgium, 28 µg/m3.

The areas measured in Los Angeles were Long Beach, Glendale and Santa Ana, where the µg/m3 level reached 25.

The cleanest city in the U.S. was Clearlake in northern California, but also Miami, San Francisco and Denver rank above the first Swedish contester.

Story continues below…

“The measurements used in the database are taken from monitoring sites in cities, including roadside, but excluding industrial and other recognized 'hot spots' that are not representative of the exposure of many people (e.g. crossings at highways) in order to avoid overestimates,” according to a fact sheet on WHO’s website.

The dirtiest city on the list is Iranian Ahwaz, with a value more than 20 times higher than Malmö. At 372 µg/m3, Ahwaz also beats second worst Ulaanbaatar of Mongolia, with almost 100 units.

Other Cities above 100 µg/m3, is Abu Dhabi, Sarajevo, Beijing, Mumbai and Islamabad.

Joel Linde (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:29 September 27, 2011 by fikatid
I think the air pollution mostly comes from 2nd hand smoke. I hate following people smoking in the front. It seems that there are lots of inconsiderate people here. No wonder the air is dirty. Smoking kills as well. For the smokers, please be considerate. If you want to kill yourself, don't drag others with you.
17:31 September 27, 2011 by Opinionfool
In the words of the British sitcom character Victor Meldrew "I don't believe it!"

According to this the UK is clearner than Sweden. At the city level London only 1 point ahead of Stockholm. Having lived and worked in both cities I know which is cleaner and it isn't London.
17:33 September 27, 2011 by Kibitz
I would imagine that some of that dirty air in Stockholm must come from the Central Station. I mean, the smell coming from all of the public restrooms alone is enough to Stockholm on this list.
17:40 September 27, 2011 by andyron2
According to the local, study conducted predominantly in 2008 is a recent one.

It took 3 years to release the figures...i want to apply for the WHO job position,Research scientist.
17:44 September 27, 2011 by occassional
Not those studded winter tyres again because I'd rather breathe asbestos than pay for a set of those traction ones or whatever they are called.
19:44 September 27, 2011 by millionmileman
It must be all the cars that stay garaged because of city entrance tax or the ethanol!
20:54 September 27, 2011 by Reptile
I find this very difficult to believe. The air is much cleaner than in London for ex. I thought I was going to literally suffocate after only 1 week in London. I think this was the reason I got sick before I left London.
21:37 September 27, 2011 by erik68
21:58 September 27, 2011 by Nora
PM10 is only one of the factors in air quality. The general term of air cleanness consists of many other items such as Nox, Co2, etc. Concluding that Stockholm air is worst tan whatever city, is like saying an elephant is like a snake only by touching its trunk! You have completely missed the whole picture.
21:59 September 27, 2011 by Twiceshy
In that case Los Angeles must have very clean air, because Stockholm's air is wonderful...
22:15 September 27, 2011 by Rishonim
And that picture is neither of STHLM nor LA. The pic is misleading.
22:37 September 27, 2011 by wxman
The air in LA can be very clean and clear much of the time, as long as there are active weather fronts moving through. If, however, a stagnant high pressure area parks over southern California, you get what most people think of LA. Sometimes it lasts several days on end.
22:45 September 27, 2011 by Opinionfool

There appear to be some cars driving in the left hand lane (albeit they appear to be taxis) and isn't that a tuk-tuk at the left edge of the shot. Maybe the picture editor was beguiled by the yellow-ish taxi in the bottom corner.
22:56 September 27, 2011 by Jorrs
I think that picture is Bangkok actually
23:31 September 27, 2011 by blursd
I grew up in Los Angeles, and I lived in the Stockholm area for quite a while, and the first thing I thought when I read this article was "bulls@#$!"

How many Stage 4 Smog Alerts does Stockholm have every year ... Oh that's right .. none in the history of ever. Meanwhile there are still days in Los Angeles where they tell you shouldn't breathe the air outside any more than you have to because it's extremely bad for your health.

The air quality in Los Angeles still gets bad enough in the summer sometimes that you can be just five miles away from downtown and NOT be able to see any of the buildings clearly. Hell, sometimes you can go months without being able to see the San Bernardino Mountains ... and they surround the Los Angeles Valley. It's not until fall comes, and weather patterns change that you can see them again, and remember "Oh yah ... there are mountains here, huh ..."
02:45 September 28, 2011 by Smiling Canuk
Whitehorse came in #1 but who the heck would ever want to live way up there? LOL!

Actually five CDN cities were in the world top ten. Canada is one of the world's least polluted countries despite the fact that Canuks are among the world's worst per capita polluters. We're just lucky to be living in such a vast under populated part of the world.

I'm actually very surprised that Stockholm tested so poorly.
08:12 September 28, 2011 by RobinHood
I love it when organisations produce statistics that can't possibly be true, and then expect us to respect them.

A few months ago, the Swedish red cross told us 10% of Swedish children live in abject poverty.

Yes, of course they do dear.
09:17 September 28, 2011 by eppie
Difficult to comment because the article just give a list of city names and how bad or good they are. No mention is made as to the why?

For sure in winter ans spring time when there is no snow, the dust from studded tires and gravel will have a very negative effect on air quality.
14:08 September 28, 2011 by Opinionfool

There is a methodology statement in the WHO report from which the data was extracted. But you'll have to go hunt for the report on the WHO web site. (Currently it is listed under News.)


Maybe you've hit the nail on the head. Sweden (and London) are both affect by the Gulf Stream. Recently with Icelandic volcanoes blowing tonnes of material into the atmosphere it is likely there will be more particulates in the air in these cities. Whitehorse CDN being in the middle of nowhere gets none of those deposits.

Like andyron2, I want a job with WHO in the Useless Meaningless and Late Statistics department. Any fool can produce research of their quality.
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