This is a very famous quote, “Pollution, If You Don’t Kill It, It will Kill You.” This is very true of the pollution levels in various countries of the world. Every human being has a right to breathe fresh air. However, that has become the most difficult thing to have access to in such times of pollution. Vehicles and industries are the main cause of pollution in the major cities.
Pollution can be of various types, air pollution, water pollution, etc. Each type of pollution is bad for the health of the people residing in these cities. The most visible kind of pollution is the air pollution. This type of pollution can directly affect the lungs of the people. There are many ways of determining the air pollution levels. Every country has its own criteria as far as determining the air quality is concerned. They measure the air quality index based on the levels of Particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10, etc.), Sulfur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3), Carbon Monoxide (CO), etc.
We present a compilation of the ten most polluted cities in the world. You can find the most of the cities are in the Asian subcontinent. This list can change very frequently because Delhi was among the most polluted cities in the world in the first half of 2016 but now it has slipped to the eleventh position.
We have taken the PM2.5 level as the main criteria for determining the pollution levels of these cities. Each of these cities has a PM2.5 level of more than 125. The satisfactory range is around 31 to 60. A PM 2.5 level more than 250 is very severe. It can cause serious health problems to its residents because of the minute size of the particles practically invisible to the human eye.
List of top 10 most polluted cities around the world in 2017-2018
10. Baoding, China: PM2.5 index 126
At No 10 on this list is Baoding, a city in the Hebei province of China. About 150 km southwest of the capital city, Beijing, Baoding has a history of featuring in the list of most polluted cities in the world. The main cause of the air pollution in the city is the sandstorms emanating from the Mongolian desert. These sandstorms increase the particulate matter in the air. There is a lot of industrial pollution as well with the main source of generating electricity being the usage of coal. As of 2016, this city is in the 10th position as far as the most polluted cities in the world are concerned. This city has a poor PM2.5 level of 126.
9. Xingtai, China: PM2.5 index 128
The Hebei province is the most polluted province in China with two of its cities namely Baoding and Xingtai featuring among the top 10 most polluted cities in the world. At No 9 we have Xingtai, an industrial city in the Hebei province. The heavy industrial pollution coupled with the dust from the sandstorms of the Mongolian desert makes the air difficult to breathe. You find water pollution in Xingtai as well because of the release of the effluents from the industries into the rivers flowing nearby. The PM2.5 level is 128.
8. Bamenda, Cameroon: PM2.5 index 132
Bamenda in Cameroon ranks at No. 8 on the most polluted cities list. This is the only city outside Asia in this ‘top ten’ list. Bamenda is a hill station famous for its cool climate. Normally, you expect a hill station to provide clean air to breathe because of the heavy forest cover. However, it has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. Rampant deforestation is the main cause of loss of valuable green cover for this city. This has resulted in an increase in the PM2.5 level to 132. Unlike other major cities, the main cause of air pollution is the deforestation and changes in the climatic conditions.
7. Raipur, India: PM2.5 index 143.7
Indian cities have always figured in this list of the Top Ten Most polluted cities. Delhi was the No.1 among the Indian cities not long back. However, the Government of Delhi took urgent measures to curb the industrial and vehicular pollution to a great extend. At No. 7 on this list, we have Raipur, the capital of Chattisgarh State in India. A highly industrial city, the main cause of air pollution is the reckless release of industrial waste into the air and the waters. This has made the air become heavy with a PM2.5 level of 143.7.
6. Patna, India: PM2.5 index 148.9
Unfortunately, India has the maximum representation in this list of the Top 10 most polluted cities in the world. After Raipur, we have Patna at No. 6. The capital city of Bihar is also an industrial town spewing industrial waste recklessly into the atmosphere. You can always find a thick smog especially during the winter months when the air becomes heavier with the dew. The city has a PM2.5 level of 148.9 classifying the air quality as very poor.
5. Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia: PM2.5 index 151.7
Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia has the distinction of being the largest producer of aluminum in the world. However, the same industry is the main culprit behind the rise of the pollution levels in this city to alarming levels. As it is, Saudi Arabia is a desert nation experiencing heavy sandstorms throughout the year. The pollution from the aluminum industries add to the sandstorm dust taking the PM2.5 level to 151.7. This is an alarming figure making this city feature at No 5 on this infamous list.
4. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: PM2.5 index 155.5
Riyadh is the capital city of Saudi Arabia. A desert city, you can find sandstorms practically every day. In addition, you have the pollution from the vehicle exhaust and the industries as well. These factors combine to make the air heavy with PM2.5 levels of 155.5. The sand particles are very minute. Hence, they can cause tremendous harm if they enter the lungs. Hence, you find people usually covering the faces all the time in this city, ranked at No 4 in this list of the Top 10 Most polluted cities in the world.
3. Allahabad, India: PM2.5 index 169.7
As far as pollution levels go, India, as a country should take the cake. Allahabad, at No.3 is the third city on this list, making India as the largest contributor to this infamous list. The main cause of pollution in this city in the largest state of India, Uttar Pradesh is the industrial pollution. Rampant deforestation is also another major cause of air pollution in this city. In addition to the air pollution, you have heavy water pollution with the river Ganga in dire straits. However, the present Government has taken giant strides to reduce the water and air pollution in this city. With a PM2.5 index of 169.7, this city has alarming levels of suspended particulate matter.
2. Gwalior, India: PM2.5 index 176.1
Gwalior is a very small city in Madhya Pradesh in Central India. This state has a large number of industries. At one point in time, the outskirts of this city had great green cover in the form of the Chambal forest. However, massive deforestation in this region has made the air very polluted in this city. This city witnesses great pollution from burning garbage and fossil fuels. Having an alarming PM2.5 index of 176.1 this city is No. 2 in the list of the top 10 Most polluted cities in the world.
1. Zabol, Iran: PM2.5 index 216.7
Zabol, a border city situated on the border between Iran and Afghanistan was at one point in time in history a great civilization. However, that was a thing of the past. Today, you can only find poverty and pollution in large numbers in this ancient city. In the early part of this century, the only piece of wetland near the city, Hamoun, dried up becoming a major source of dust.
The summer temperatures can rise to alarming levels. In addition, you have the natural dust storms for about 120 days in a year spraying the air with minute particles of sand. Inhaling them for a few hours can cause serious lung damage. It is a mystery how people survive here. With a PM2.5 index of 216.7, the highest in the world, this city ranks No. 1 on the list of the Top 10 Most Polluted cities in the world.
We have considered the PM2.5 index as our criteria for compiling this list of the most polluted cities in the world. There are many other factors. If we had taken the PM10 index as our base, Onitsha from Nigeria would have topped the list comfortably. There are other indices as well such as Sulfur dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, etc. However, one can only state that any kind of pollution is bad. This explains why the major countries in the world have decided to move the industries away from the cities.