Top 10 Most Polluted Cities in the World – Breathing on the Edge

Top 10 Most Polluted Cities in the World


Most Polluted Cities

Pollution Rate (µg/m3)


Dammam, Saudi Arabia



Lahore, Pakistan



Dhaka, Bangladesh



Delhi, India



Muzaffarnagar, India



Baghdad, Iraq



Ghaziabad, India



Patna, India



Hapur, India



Peshawar, Pakistan


Want the best of the best in articles? NEWSTARS Education is your go-to source for quality content. Explore our Top 10 Articles and stay connected with what’s trending and insightful.

Most Polluted Cities in the World

Every year, air pollution poses a grave threat to human health, and some cities around the world grapple with alarming levels of pollution. The list of the ‘Most Polluted Cities in the World’ highlights urban areas where air quality has reached critical levels, often far exceeding recommended safety limits. These cities face not only environmental challenges but also significant health risks for their residents. In this ranking, we explore the 10 most polluted cities in the world, shedding light on the urgent need for global efforts to combat air pollution and improve the quality of life for millions of people.


1. Dammam, Saudi Arabia (124.11 µg/m³)

Dammam, a major city in Saudi Arabia, has earned the unfortunate distinction of being the most polluted city in the world, with an annual average PM2.5 level of 124.11 µg/m³. This alarming level of air pollution is primarily attributed to industrial emissions, high traffic volume, and unfavorable meteorological conditions. The city’s rapid industrialization and economic growth have led to increased emissions from oil refineries, petrochemical plants, and other industries. Furthermore, the arid climate and geographical location of Dammam make it susceptible to temperature inversions, trapping pollutants close to the ground and exacerbating air quality issues. The health implications for residents of Dammam are severe, with increased risks of respiratory diseases and other pollution-related health problems, making urgent air quality improvement measures imperative.

2. Lahore, Pakistan (111.63 µg/m³)

Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, ranks as the second most polluted city in the world, with an annual PM2.5 level of 111.63 µg/m³. The city faces significant air quality challenges due to a combination of factors, including industrial emissions, vehicular pollution, and agricultural burning in nearby regions. Lahore’s rapid urbanization and population growth have led to increased traffic congestion and emissions from vehicles. Moreover, the seasonal practice of crop stubble burning in the neighboring agricultural areas contributes to a spike in air pollution during certain months. The hazardous levels of pollution in Lahore have serious health implications for its residents, particularly children and the elderly, who are more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses and other pollution-related health issues. Addressing air quality in Lahore is a pressing concern for public health and environmental authorities in Pakistan.

3. Dhaka, Bangladesh (84.73 µg/m³)

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, ranks as the third most polluted city in the world, with an annual PM2.5 level of 84.73 µg/m³. The city’s air quality issues are primarily driven by rapid urbanization, increasing industrialization, and a high population density. Dhaka is known for its traffic congestion, with a large number of vehicles emitting pollutants into the atmosphere. Additionally, industrial emissions from factories and construction activities further contribute to the pollution levels. Dhaka’s geographical location, surrounded by rivers and low-lying land, often leads to meteorological conditions that trap pollutants, worsening air quality. This severe air pollution has significant health consequences for the city’s residents, including increased respiratory illnesses and reduced overall quality of life. Mitigating air pollution in Dhaka is a crucial task for authorities to protect the well-being of its citizens and ensure a sustainable urban environment.

4. Delhi, India (84.39 µg/m³)

Delhi, the capital city of India, has long been in the spotlight for its severe air pollution issues. With an annual PM2.5 level of 84.39 µg/m³, Delhi consistently ranks as one of the most polluted cities in the world. The primary culprits for this alarming pollution are vehicular emissions, industrial activities, and crop residue burning in the neighboring regions during the winter months. Delhi’s air quality deteriorates significantly during the winter season, earning it the infamous title of having some of the worst air quality in the world. The pollution levels have serious health implications, with residents facing increased risks of respiratory diseases, cardiovascular problems, and reduced life expectancy. The city has been implementing measures such as odd-even vehicle schemes and introducing cleaner fuel alternatives to combat the issue, but addressing Delhi’s air pollution remains a complex and ongoing challenge.

5. Muzaffarnagar, India (81.35 µg/m³)

Muzaffarnagar, a city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, is another urban area grappling with alarmingly high levels of air pollution, as evidenced by its annual PM2.5 level of 81.35 µg/m³. Like many other cities in the region, Muzaffarnagar faces severe air quality issues primarily due to agricultural activities, industrial emissions, and vehicular pollution. The burning of crop residues, a common practice in this agricultural region, significantly contributes to the deterioration of air quality, especially during the post-harvest season. Residents in Muzaffarnagar are exposed to increased risks of respiratory illnesses and other health problems due to this persistent pollution. Tackling air pollution in Muzaffarnagar requires coordinated efforts to reduce emissions from various sources and promote sustainable agricultural practices.

6. Baghdad, Iraq (77.62 µg/m³)

Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, faces considerable air pollution challenges, with an annual PM2.5 level of 77.62 µg/m³. The pollution in Baghdad arises from a mix of factors, including vehicular emissions, industrial activities, and dust storms. Iraq’s turbulent history and ongoing conflicts have hindered environmental regulations and infrastructure development, contributing to the city’s air quality problems. Dust storms, prevalent in the region, exacerbate the situation by adding particulate matter to the atmosphere. This pollution has severe health implications for the city’s residents, with increased risks of respiratory diseases and other health issues. Addressing air pollution in Baghdad requires a multi-pronged approach, including stricter emissions regulations, improved public transportation, and efforts to mitigate the impact of dust storms on air quality.

7. Ghaziabad, India (74.72 µg/m³)

Ghaziabad, a bustling city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, has been consistently ranked among the most polluted cities globally. With an annual average PM2.5 level of 74.72 µg/m³, Ghaziabad’s air quality is far from meeting recommended safety standards. The city’s pollution is primarily attributed to rapid urbanization, industrial emissions, vehicular traffic, and construction activities. Residents of Ghaziabad face serious health risks, including respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular diseases, and reduced life expectancy due to prolonged exposure to high levels of fine particulate matter. Efforts to improve air quality in Ghaziabad include stricter emissions regulations, increased green spaces, and public awareness campaigns, but significant challenges remain in achieving breathable air for its citizens.

8. Patna, India (67.20 µg/m³)

Patna, the capital city of the Indian state of Bihar, grapples with severe air pollution, registering an annual PM2.5 level of 67.20 µg/m³. Like many Indian cities, Patna faces pollution challenges due to rapid urbanization, vehicular emissions, and industrial activities. The city’s residents are exposed to particulate matter that poses a significant threat to their health, contributing to respiratory diseases, cardiovascular problems, and an overall diminished quality of life. Addressing Patna’s air quality concerns requires concerted efforts, including improved public transportation, stricter pollution controls, and policies promoting cleaner energy sources.

9. Hapur, India (67.02 µg/m³)

Hapur, a city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, experiences high levels of air pollution, with an annual PM2.5 level of 67.02 µg/m³. The pollution in Hapur is predominantly attributed to factors like industrial emissions, vehicular traffic, and construction activities. Residents face health risks such as respiratory ailments, cardiovascular diseases, and reduced lung function due to prolonged exposure to fine particulate matter. Mitigating pollution in Hapur involves implementing stricter industrial regulations, promoting cleaner energy sources, and creating public awareness campaigns to protect the well-being of the city’s inhabitants

10. Peshawar, Pakistan (66.15 µg/m³)

Peshawar, one of Pakistan’s largest cities, contends with significant air pollution, registering an annual PM2.5 level of 66.15 µg/m³. The pollution in Peshawar is driven by various factors, including industrial emissions, vehicular traffic, and geographical factors that trap pollutants in the region. The city’s residents are exposed to health risks such as respiratory diseases, cardiovascular problems, and reduced life expectancy due to the harmful effects of fine particulate matter. Addressing Peshawar’s air quality challenges necessitates measures like stricter industrial emissions controls, improved public transportation, and urban planning that prioritizes green spaces and cleaner energy sources to safeguard the health and well-being of the population.

How Does Air Pollution Impact Public Health?

Air pollution has significant and far-reaching impacts on public health, affecting people of all ages and leading to a wide range of health problems. The severity of these health effects is often determined by the type and concentration of pollutants in the air, as well as the duration of exposure. Here’s an in-depth look at how air pollution affects public health:

Respiratory Problems: One of the most immediate and common health impacts of air pollution is respiratory problems. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and other pollutants can penetrate deep into the respiratory system, causing or exacerbating conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Prolonged exposure can lead to reduced lung function and increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.

Cardiovascular Diseases: Air pollution is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes. Particulate matter and other pollutants can enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation and oxidative stress. Over time, this can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and other heart-related issues.

Cancer: Long-term exposure to certain air pollutants, such as benzene, formaldehyde, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), is associated with an elevated risk of cancer. These carcinogens can be inhaled and accumulate in the body, potentially leading to lung cancer and other types of cancer.

Reduced Life Expectancy: Studies have shown that individuals living in areas with high levels of air pollution tend to have shorter life expectancies. The cumulative effects of pollution-related health problems can significantly reduce the quality and length of life.

Developmental and Reproductive Issues: Pregnant women exposed to air pollution may face adverse outcomes, including low birth weight and preterm births. Air pollution can also impact the development of children’s lungs and cognitive function.

Neurological Effects: Emerging research suggests a potential link between air pollution and neurological disorders, including cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative conditions. Fine particulate matter and pollutants may enter the brain, leading to inflammation and oxidative stress.

Increased Mortality: Air pollution contributes to premature deaths worldwide. It is estimated that millions of people die prematurely each year due to pollution-related health problems, making it one of the leading causes of death globally.

Quality of Life: Beyond mortality and specific health conditions, air pollution can significantly impact the overall quality of life. People living in polluted areas often experience reduced physical activity, increased healthcare costs, and a lower sense of well-being.

Air pollution poses a severe and multifaceted threat to public health. Its detrimental effects encompass a wide range of health conditions, from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases to cancer, and it can lead to reduced life expectancy and an overall decline in quality of life. Addressing air pollution is not only an environmental imperative but also a critical public health priority.

Disclaimer: The above information is for general informational purposes only. All information on the Site is provided in good faith, however we make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness of any information on the Site.

Categories: Top 10 News

Leave a Comment