Top 14 Most Polluted Cities in the World are in India: WHO

Kanpur was named as the most polluted city in the world by WHO, while Delhi landed on the 6th position.


The top 14 most polluted cities in the world, as per PM 2.5 concentrations in the air, are in India, according to the World Health Organization’s latest data. Kanpur was named as the most polluted city in the world on the list.

Delhi, which has one of the highest levels of air pollution in the world, landed on the 6th position. Kanpur was followed  by Faridabad, Varanasi, Gaya and Patna, respectively, making the top five most polluted cities in the world. Behind Delhi were Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarnagar, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala, and Jodhpur, respectively. As many as 4,000 cities in 100 countries were surveyed for the report.

The data also revealed that every year an alarming number of people — 7 million —  die due to outdoor and household air pollution. At least 3.8 million of them die due to household air pollution alone. Most of the air pollution related deaths are occurring in low and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas.

Clean household air has been a focus point for the current government in India, which has been pushing for LPG cylinders for households that still use traditional cooking methods. The government has provided free LPG connections to about 37 million women living below the poverty line to support them to switch to clean household energy use, according to the WHO report.

“Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of WHO, said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that over 3 billion people – most of them women and children – are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes.”

Though the critical level of air pollution in Delhi earlier this year led the center and state governments to take steps to curtail it, the Indian capital is still among the world’s top 10 most polluted cities. In 2016, the city’s PM 2.5 annual average was 143 micrograms per cubic meter, more than three times the national safe standard, while the PM 10 average was 292 micrograms per cubic meter, more than 4.5 times the national standard.

In November 2017, air pollution in Delhi was so high that the United Airlines halted its services temporarily until visibility was better.

“Many of the world’s megacities exceed WHO’s guideline levels for air quality by more than 5 times, representing a major risk to people’s health,” Dr Maria Neira, the Director of the Department of Public Health, Social and Environmental Determinants of Health, at WHO, said.

The WHO said that the Southeast Asia region, including India, needs to be aggressive in addressing air pollution. The region accounts for 34 per cent or 2.4 million of the seven million premature deaths caused by household and outdoor ambient air pollution globally.

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