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The Top 10 Most Air Polluted Cities in the World Are…

A new report from the World Health Organization ranks cities around the world based on the cities’ detected levels of air pollution. The WHO surveyed data from nearly 1100 cities across 91 countries– including capital cities and cities with more than 100, 000 residents.

Of that list, it seems that the south-eastern Iranian city Ahwaz has the dubious distinction of having the dirtiest air in the world.  It was followed closely by Ulanbataar, the capitol of Mongolia. In general, cities in Iran, Pakistan, and India were the dirtiest. Here’s the top 10 most air polluted cities in the world.

1. Ahwaz, Iran

2. Ulanbataar, Mongolia

3. Sanadaj, Iran

4. Ludhiana, India

5. Quetta, Pakistan

6. Kermanshah, Iran

7. Peshawar, Pakistan

8. Gaberone Botswana

9. Yasouj, Iran

10. Kampour, India

Why does this matter? “WHO estimates more than 2 million people die every year from breathing in tiny particles present in indoor and outdoor air pollution. PM10 particles, which are particles of 10 micrometers or less, which can penetrate into the lungs and may enter the bloodstream, can cause heart disease, lung cancer, asthma, and acute lower respiratory infections.”

The WHO air quality guidelines for PM10 is 20 micrograms per cubic meter as an annual average.  Ahwaz is at 372, or over 18 times what is healthy.  Kampour comes in at 209.  The millions of people that live in cities with PM10 levels over ten times what they should be can literally be sickened by the very air they breathe.

So where are the world’s cleanest cities? Well, nine out of the top ten are in Canada. (Though Santa Fe, New Mexico comes in at 11!)

10. CanadaNelson
9. CanadaFredericton
8. CanadaCorner Brook
7. CanadaTerrace
6. CanadaNanaimo
5. United States of AmericaClearlake, CA
4. CanadaHouston
3. CanadaBurns Lake
2. CanadaKitimat
1. CanadaWhitehorse

  • Clare Hutchinson

    Hmm, interesting. Go Canada?! Although I’m a bit confused… Nelson has a population of only 9000. Is that really comparable as a city to Ahvaz’ 1.3 million people? In fact, most of the Canadian cities are nowhere near the levels of population and development as the ‘Most Polluted’ cities – Burns Lake is only a village, at 2000 people. I have no idea why they would juxtapose metrapolitan centres (which, frankly, is me being charitable to Burns Lake, although I love it) at such completely different standards. It would have been more interesting to see where cities of comparable sizes ranked in relation to each other.

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