Top 25 Most Polluted Cities in the World

pollution and smoke pouring out of a smokestack

Pollution has become a mainstream concern for people around the world, since the rise of living more eco-friendly is something more people aspire to do.

To truly have a greener lifestyle, people want to know their city that has the same goals. Efforts are being made to counteract waste in major metropolitan areas.

Read on to learn about the top 25 most polluted cities in the world. You’ll learn which are the worst offenders and if they’re doing anything to reverse the damage they do.

25. Jiaozuo, Central China

It used to be a frequent news story that people had to buy masks to walk around China and not breathe in heavy levels of pollution. Sometimes the air in some cities is so thick with unnatural waste that it creates a dense fog.

Even with all the advanced technology China produces each year, there are still some areas that struggle with pollution. This has to do with their laws and practices, and also the ever-increasing population.

Jiaozuo is one of the cities where the smog is difficult to see through. The World Health Organization recently published a report that the city comes in at nearly twice the national standard for exposure to smog.

The city is working with the national government on developing pollution solutions, along with publishing pollution forecasts every day.

24. Al-Shuwaikh, Kuwait

In Kuwait, the city of Al-Shuwaikh doesn’t have thick air pollution, but it still has an average PM2.5 per cubic meter.

To lower these levels, the city maintains pollution control equipment to filter out air pollution and make the city a safer place to breathe.

23. Liaocheng, East China

Liaocheng is another Chinese city that deals with smog regularly. It comes from coal burning, which is done at much more accelerated rates in China.

While the fog is difficult to fight, the city uses water-saving irrigation devices in their fields, keeping its water usage low and sustainable.

22. Dhaka, Bangladesh

Dhaka also struggles with air pollution. A recent study found that alarming levels of nickel, lead, arsenic and other metals were present in the city’s air.

To fight this pollution, the city has a goal to reduce vehicle emissions, especially when it comes to heavy-duty diesel models.

21. Karachi, Pakistan

As one of the biggest cities in Pakistan, Karachi deals with extremely high garbage levels.

While it doesn’t have an immediate fix, locals are innovating garbage solutions, such as forming groups that adopt parts of the city and clean them up regularly.

20. Beijing, China

The carbon emissions in Beijing are far greater than most countries in the developed world, so the city has tried to be proactive about solving this issue.

Because corporations emit more pollution than individual citizens, Beijing enacted a carbon dioxide tax to get businesses in line with ending pollution.

19. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

The city of Ulaanbaatar is known for being an example of one of the biggest cities in the world that deals with air pollution.

Part of the solution to this issue is an introduction of a coal ban in the city, plus encouraging countryside development to spread out the population.

18. Jodhpur, West India

Air pollution is also a problem in Jodhpur, where the air is so thick with pollutants that residents are at a higher risk for lung cancer and heart diseases, along with other health complications.

To make pollution a more pressing issue for people, the government began to study its effects on health and encourage cleaner energy sources for public transportation.

17. Patiala, North India

Patiala used to be known as one of the most polluted cities in India. While the levels of air pollution are still high, it’s made major strides in the last year.

The World Health Organization found that at the beginning of 2019, Patiala was the cleanest of 74 cities in India. While it still makes the worldwide most polluted cities charts, it’s a major improvement for the city’s residents.

16. Kabul, Afghanistan

The biggest pollution issue in Kabul revolves around the city’s drinking water. Over the last nine years, waterborne illnesses have killed more people than terrorists here.

Kabul has partnered with international groups to address this pollution crisis and bring clean water to its people.

15. Cairo, Egypt

Cairo is the second most populated city in Africa, so it has air filled with pollution that people can feel when they breathe.

The city has put together plans to reduce air pollution by half before 2023, starting with vehicle emissions.

14. Jaipur, West India

It’s been proven that Jaipur has the highest death rate in India, and that those deaths are directly related to air pollution.

This has alarmed government officials, causing them to work together with doctors to monitor the general health of the public while things like coal-burning and vehicle emissions are reduced.

13. Pasakha, Bhutan

Pasakha has been growing rapidly, which has created a large industrial industry in the city. These factories have caused air pollution to increase, concerning residents.

The city recently passed a dry port law to make the environment healthier, although it has been criticized for working too slowly.

12. Panchkula, India

While Panchkula is one of the greenest cities in Haryana, India, it still makes the list for being swamped with air pollution.

Air pollution is one of the most difficult to deal with, which is why the city is setting attainable short-term goals through their IGBC Green New Buildings System. Every new building will reduce fossil fuel use, minimizing air pollution.

11. Kuwait City, Kuwait

Kuwait City has a good handle on things like water and light pollution, but its air pollution is an issue that demands to be dealt with.

The urban sector has been identified as a contributor to air pollution, which is why the Environment Public Authority (EPA) has encouraged growth to be balanced with eco-friendly construction alternatives.

10. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Air and water pollution are equal issues in Dubai, where the land and sea are ravaged for their natural resources.

This why the UAE has ramped up efforts to fight pollution with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and hopes to lower air pollution shortly.

9. Gaya, India

Gaya struggles to control air pollution, given the burst in population from rapid expansion.

Last year, the Gaya administration studied the issue further, requiring that construction vehicles be covered and sites sprayed down with water.

8. Xingtai Shi, China

Xingtai Shi is known as one of the heaviest industrial cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, so it’s seen major air pollution in recent years.

To best identify the heaviest pollution, the government built a nationwide monitor network that tracks levels of pollution that damage people’s health.

7. Manama, Bahrain

Many people travel to Manama to escape smog, but it has its own air pollution that’s just harder for the eye to see.

The CDC and EPA work with the local government to hand out home air filters, so people don’t experience health effects like post-nasal drip and coughs at home.

6. Mumbai, India

Many cities in India have heavy air pollution, but Mumbai recently surpassed the extreme pollution levels of New Delhi.

That’s one of the reasons why environmental activists are teaming up with Mumbai citizens and government officials to come up with a green fiscal strategy.

5. Huaibei, China

As Huaibei faces the same air pollution challenge of other large cities in China, it also has to handle plastic waste pollution.

A recent Chinese embargo on scrap plastic imports has left garbage around the city, so local government officials are looking to repeal it.

4. Lukavac, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Lukavac is one of the most polluted cities in the world, thanks to rising air pollution that has been unheeded for years.

International health officials are calling for clean air in Lukavac due to the increase in heart and lung diseases linked to the pollution, along with other health concerns.

3. Kathmandu, Nepal

Air pollution has become an issue in Kathmandu due to the urban infrastructure being unable to support its rising population.

The government has identified ways to help, like increasing infrastructure projects and reducing electric vehicle taxes, although these actions won’t make change happen very quickly.

2. Faisalabad, Pakistan

Fog and smog have made Faisalabad one of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world.

The area has other issues that the local government considers more pressing, which is why if pollution is ever going to decrease, it won’t be anytime soon.

1. Gurugram, India

Gurgugram is the No. 1 most polluted city in the world, thanks to air pollution that also contains PM2.5, which festers in the lungs and bloodstream.

Although the city has made small efforts in the past to curb pollution, nothing has been done to target the main contributors of construction sites, roads and vehicular emissions.

There’s Work to be Done

These are the most polluted cities in the world, but they don’t have to stay that way. With the right help from other countries and the introduction of new technologies and organizations, even the worst pollution can be conquered.

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