Visualization of the Week: Pollution exposure by city

Using WHO data, The Guardian Data Blog team pulled together a world map of annual pollution exposure.

The latest reports of severe smog blanketing Beijing inspired The Guardian Data Blog team to dip into World Heath Organization data and design a world map of annual pollution exposure by city. Data Blog researcher Ami Sedghi writes:

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that exposure to particulate matter increases the risk of many chronic and acute respiratory conditions in children and adults. The WHO air quality guidelines indicate that by reducing particulate matter (PM10) pollution from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic metre, air quality related deaths can be reduced by around 15%.”

Users can drill down to isolate single cities; those with data are represented by dots reflecting the pollution levels. For example, by zooming in and clicking on the dot nearest to Boston, detailed information pops up indicating Boston’s levels in 2009 were below the 20 micrograms per cubic metre limit recommended by WHO:

You can access WHO’s data behind the map here, and the version of the map WHO designed here.

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