The Worst Cities in the World for Air Pollution


You may not know this but today, 75% of all cities in both developed and developing countries have worse air quality than what most experts consider healthy. This is should not come as surprising, given that nearly all modern cities are heavily polluted thanks to traffic jam and other human activities like smoking and industrial activities. But how exactly does the ranking look like? Which cities are affected? Make sure that you if you plan on visiting one of these cities that you check out our air pollution mask guide.

Here’s a list of top 5 most polluted cities in the world. Note that pollution is measured in PM, which stands for particulate matter.

Kanpur, India

The city has up to 10 times more particulate matter than what is considered safe. Pollution here is attributed to heavy industrial activities and the high number of motor vehicles that get in and out of the city. Air masks are very common here, as a preventive and protective measure. The city has a PM of 2.5.

Shijizhuang, China

Waking up to heavy smog is common in Shijizhuang, China. It gets worse sometimes to a point where it is impossible to see beyond 100 meters. The city is the largest one in China’s Hebei province. Its air pollution can be attributed to heavy industrial activity in the area. The situation is so bad that sometime back, a man tried to unsuccessfully sue the government over heavy smog. Like Kanpur, Shijizhuang has a  PM of 2.5.

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Tucked in the eastern parts of Saudi Arabia lies Damman; a sizeable city with a huge population. It is Saudi Arabia’s sixth largest city by both population and size. It is easy to understand why pollution here is rampant. There are several oil processing industries in the city. Emission of harmful gases into the air is therefore not a new thing here.

Ludhiana, India

Ludhiana has a population of more than 1.6 million people. It has been featured severally in journals, periodicals and magazines as one of the most polluted cities in the world.  Air masks are also common here. Pollution levels seem to change from time to time here. It has worsened over the years, with more people coming into the city. Industries also contribute to pollution in Ludhiana, as much as vehicles do.

Baoding, China

Of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world, Chinese cities are only two – Baoding and Shijizhuang. Unlike the aforementioned cities which have emissions from vehicles as a contributing factor to pollution, Baoding’s pollution can be attributed to coal. Factors near the city use coal powered machines which emit toxic gases in the air.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

It is the largest city in Saudi Arabia. Its pollution levels are scary, with a PM that is up to 16 times what a safe annual PM in an urban area should be. The city’s high pollution can be attributed to high levels of sulfur dioxide in the air as a result of heavy industrial activity within and outside the city. Riyadh also has a high automotive population which is another significant contributing factor as far as air pollution is concerned.

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