most polluted cities

most polluted cities

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, French naval officer, explorer and conservationist once said: “Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”

It seems we have forgotten that human beings cannot live without, but the subsistence of planets does not depend on the existence of humankind. Several reports by World Health Organization (WHO) states that life expectancy is still below the age of 40 in many countries. The lists of contributors to this global crisis, pollution, are numerous but the lack of sanitation and improper waste disposal.

Here is the list of 20 most polluted cities of the world where pollution and waste management strategies hardly work.


1. Linfen, China

Linfen was once nicknamed “The Modern Fruit and Flower Town” but today’s scenario is heartbreaking, it is not just the most-polluted city of China but the world due to industrial and automotive emission.


2. Accra, Ghana

Capital city and the most densely inhabited concerning urban population is Accra. The increasing population has left Accra vulnerable to the impact of climate changes and rising sea level. Climate & Development Knowledge Network report shows that the Inadequate planning regulation and law enforcement, along with perceived corruption in government has restricted Accra’s development.


3. Cairo, Egypt

Cairo is the pride of Egypt and has ancient roots, but the concerns regarding the quality of air are alarming as it is more than 10 to 100 times the acceptable international standards. The architecture of Cairo, tall buildings and narrow streets traps the pollution and trims down ventilation.


4. La Oroya, Peru

La Oroya major pollutants are Sulphur dioxide, lead, copper, zinc. World health organisation has shown “red alert” reason being the level of lead is thrice the fair rate and the concern are overgrown when 99% of children are born with blood level higher in the lead than the standard cases.


5. Dzerzhinsky, Russia

Dzershinsk, city of Russia has registered its ‘honorable’ presence in Guinness book of records for being the most chemically polluted city of the world. The presence of chemical weapon manufacturing has exceeded the death by birth rate of the city by 260% by major pollutants like sarin and Vx gas.


6. Sukinda, India

Sukinda has marred itself with the presence of Hexavalent Chromium in drinking water double the international standard of Hexavalent Chromium and has lead to an estimate that nearly 85% of deaths in mining areas are due to diseases that stem from chromium exposure.


7. Norilsk, Russia

Norilsk is the home for the world’s largest heavy metal smelting plant, and more than four million tonnes of hazardous chemicals are exposed to the atmosphere resulting in poisoning environment where not a single tree grow within 30 miles radius of the city.


8. Chernobyl, Ukraine

What is worse than the nuclear bomb attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? The answer is the nuclear plant meltdown which emitted 100 times radiation than the attack in 1986. Chernobyl needs thousands of years to eradicate the contamination of the environment.


9. Kabwe, Zambia

Kabwe is the victim of Cadmium and lead poisoning and little is done to right the situation. The intensity of the situation can be comprehended by a study showing that an average Zambian child has concentrated ten times the lead in their blood than what U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows.


10. Sumgait, Azerbaijan

The operational Industrial and petrochemical complexes have emitted over 12,000 tonnes of harmful residues like oil, organic metal, mercury and heavy metal.


11. Kathmandu, Nepal

Pollution Index 2016 has declared Kathmandu to be one of the most polluted cities in the world with the pollution index of 96.66. The city of Kathmandu resides in the bowl-shaped valley, and this distinctive shape restricts the industrial and vehicle fumes to escape.


12. Beijing, China

Joe Biden, vice-president of U.S.A, said”…..Folks in Beijing, some days, literally can’t breathe. Over a million Chinese die prematurely every year because of air pollution.” Beijing is the third most populous cities in the world and is china’s political, cultural, and educational centre. Air quality measurement was the PM2.5 density of 755 micrograms per cubic meter, which went off the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality index. In 2015, December 8 and 9 Beijing had its first “smog” alert followed by “red alert”.


13. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with the population of 10 million. The distressed quality of air is alarming along with the increasing graph of water pollution. The primary reasons for pollution are the defected system of waste disposal and dissatisfactory level of greenery in the heart of the city.


14. Casablanca, Morocco

Casablanca is the economic capital of Morocco and has been titled as “pollution” capital recently. The quality of surface water is deteriorated due to the increasing industrialisation in the region; factories’ waste water is severely affecting groundwater. Defected Waste disposal and lacking drainage system has made the situation worse.


15. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is following the footsteps of Beijing in being the “pollution capital”. The index in Hanoi has reached the “hazardous” 388, a level of more serious health issues. Air-pollution in Hanoi is a long-lasting problem, especially with the exceeding concentration of fine particles and ozone, which can cause adverse health effects at ground level.


16. Delhi, India

Delhi is the heart of India along with being the capital; it stands sixth in the whole world regarding the population. Overpopulation and the ensuing overuse of scarce resources such as water put heavy pressure on the environment. Residents of Delhi are the sufferers of severe air pollution, water and noise pollution.


17. Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi stretch cover the area of 135km, and the pollutants are the combination of industrial, port, municipal, and transportation activities in the area. The ever growing environment pollution affects the biophysical environment and human health. The major issues of pollution are due to Air pollution, lack of proper waste management infrastructure and degradation of water bodies.


18. Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City has witnessed a dramatic shift from being one of the cleanest city to being the dirtiest. Mexico City is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains on three sides. The city is located at 2,240 meters above sea level, thus less oxygen at the altitude, most of the air pollution is the result of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons, mainly diesel emissions.


19. Tehran, Iran

The capital city of Iran is rated as one of the most pollutant cities of the world. Creation of smog leads to difficulties in breathing and other pulmonary diseases. A local survey suggests that 3,600 people died in a single month due to the hazardous air quality and 80% of the pollution is due to outdated and ageing cars.


20. Manila, Philippines

Pollution in Manila has turned uglier with time. The measure of pollutants of is 85.06, which is insanely high and compelling enough to cause serious breathing issues like asthma. Emission from Industries and transportation mediums are the promoter of air pollution reason being the continuous use of gasoline apparently violating the anti-pollution laws.


Cities of the world are running in this Crazy marathon for the title of “most polluted”, and maybe we are answering the question raised by Ian Rankin “You wouldn’t think you could kill an ocean, would you? But we’ll do it one day. That’s how negligent we are.”


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