Most Polluted Cities in the World 2023 – Check the complete list here!

With more than 37 million residents, Dammam, Saudi Arabia is the most populated city in the world as of October 2023. Shanghai, China, and New Delhi, India, are ranked second and third, respectively. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the harmful effects of air pollution result in millions of premature deaths each year. 

Most Polluted Cities in the World 2023

The most polluted city in the world, according to data from the Swiss Group IQAir, is New Delhi, India. New Delhi is at the top of both the list of most polluted cities in India and the globe, with an Air Quality Index of 483. Globally, New Delhi continues to be the most badly hit city, followed by Kolkata, India, and Lahore, Pakistan. The following cities are among the most polluted in the world:

  • Dammam, Saudi Arabia (124.11 µg/m3)
  • Lahore, Pakistan (111.63 µg/m3)
  • Dhaka, Bangladesh (84.73 µg/m3)
  • Muzaffarnagar, India (81.35 µg/m3)
  • Baghdad, Iraq (77.62 µg/m3)
  • Ghaziabad, India (74.72 µg/m3)
  • Patna, India (67.20 µg/m3)
  • Hapur, India (67.02 µg/m3)
  • Peshawar, Pakistan (66.15 µg/m3)
  • Lucknow, India (63.65 µg/m3)
  • East London, South Africa (60.69 µg/m3)
  • Anyang, China (46.64 µg/m3)
  • Kolkata, India (46.77 µg/m3)
  • Xinxiang, China (46.05 µg/m3)

Dammam, the most polluted city in the world, is a significant ascent from Saudi Arabia; ranking 11th previous year, Dammam had an average of 124.11 micrograms of PM2.5.

Ratio of Most Polluted Cities in the World 2023

Toxic contamination is one of the main risk factors for non-communicable illnesses worldwide, according to Pure Earth. Seventy-two percent of fatalities are attributable to non-communicable illnesses, of which 16 percent are caused by toxic pollution. Twenty-two percent of mortality from cardiovascular disease, twenty-five percent from strokes, forty percent from lung cancer, and fifty-three percent from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can be attributed to pollution. In nations with lower and intermediate incomes, pollution is the main risk factor for mortality from NCDs.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 44% of streams, 64% of lakes, and 30% of bay and estuary regions in the US are not clean enough for swimming or fishing. The UN estimates that 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation and 783 million people lack access to clean water worldwide.

Most Polluted Cities in the World 2023

Main Sources of Air Pollution in Cities 

In every city with the highest pollution levels, household pollution stems mostly from burning fossil fuels for domestic power generation, cooking and heating with biomass, and transportation. In areas of West Asia and Africa that are next to deserts, wind-blown dust is another significant source. The earth’s surface releases windblown dust into the sky, which has a major influence on human health, air quality, and atmospheric phenomena. 

Health issues linked to dust exposure include skin irritations, conjunctivitis, meningococcal meningitis, respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, and conjunctivitis. Particles of dust in the air, namely those smaller than 10 microns in diameter, or PM10, have the ability to enter the lungs deeply and disrupt respiratory functions. Numerous acute and long-term health consequences can also result from dust that includes heavy metals or other harmful substances.

Pollutants are Dangerous in Air Pollution

These cities have dangerously high concentrations of any or all of the following pollutants due to their high numbers:

  • Low-lying ozone
  • Specific Matter
  • Benzoic acid
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Ozone

Pakistan’s Lahore tops the list owing to a mix of high car and industrial emissions, dust from building sites, smoke from brick kilns, crop residue, and burning general rubbish. The removal of huge trees to make way for new construction or roadways can also affect a ripple effect on air pollution levels. China, which was once considered the primary producer of air pollution worldwide, is surpassed by India, which has 14 cities on the list due to its fast-expanding industrial sector and burgeoning population.

Effects of Air Pollution 

Even though air pollution poses serious health hazards, many nations still struggle to reach their clean air standards. Nonetheless, a few nations—Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, and others are progressing. The world community must act to lower air pollution by, among other things, changing lifestyles, using less energy, and switching to more ecologically friendly wood-burning stoves.The most prevalent health issues linked to air pollution include cancer, heart disease, lung disease, stroke, and lower respiratory disorders.

  • Damaging the health of people. 
  • Damaging plants and animals.
  • Resulting in acid rain, lowering sunlight, etc.
  • Causing a hole in the ozone layer
  • Overdosing on nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Greenhouse gas pollution’s effects.

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