Top 10 Most Polluted Cities in the World

So, what do we get when we combine rampant urbanization with non-judicious usage of our energy resources for the industry with peppering of population growth and poor planning. The answer is very simple, it is pollution which is increasing at a significant rate. The increase in particulate matter levels causes an ecological imbalance. With, this entire imbalance we are endangering our own human species. However there are both sides of the coin , we have many great institutions and countries working relentlessly towards sustainable development, keeping in mind the importance maintaining the particulate matter. But, there are other few places in the world which have crossed many limits, note that this list is created by compiling the data from United Nations SPM Matter List. The list includes cities from different countries from different continents , here you continue with the list.

PM denotes Particulate Matter in the air.


1. Ahwaz, Iran

Ahwaz, Iran

PM Level-372ug/m3

Well this city of Iran has crossed all its limits, the pollution levels are all time high. The major reason is multitude of oil and gas industries in this region, the air is polluted. Grave consequences are being seen with some bird species getting extinct to infinite cases of lung cancer on increase. The administration of Iran blamed US for Uranium used in the Iraq war, with the American government in its denial mode. All this blame game makes the life difficult for the denizens of this city.


2. Ulanbataar, Mongolia 

Ulanbataar, Mongolia

PM Level-279ug/m3

The capital city of Mongolia featuring in this city is not surprising, because the country opened up its market in 1991 and became a market driven economy. Massive industrialisation took place, but the problem of pollution is so grave in the capital city that it is high time now to take preventive measures. The scenario seems to deteriorate with each passing year; the pm levels have been very high. No doubt about the fact that this Asian Tiger is having a difficult time on the environmental side.


3. Sanandaj, Iran

Sanandaj, Iran

PM Level-254ug/m3

This fortified city of Iran is heavily polluted. The region has many industries lined up in the city. The city has seen many new industries coming up. The blame game began as soon as the report came up. The main problem seems to be unseen, but the point is that the imbalance between development and poverty vs. pollution.


4. Ludhiana, India 

Ludhiana, India

PM Level-251ug/m3

This city of Punjab has been a major business hub since the pre partition days, its legacy continues till this day. With infinite number of factories and business this city has been a major contributor in the GDP of Punjab. But, the pollution levels have increased ever since the number of industries was sky rocketing, and the government started to invest in reducing the burden of other cities in the nearby region.


5. Peshawar, Pakistan

Peshawar, Pakistan

PM Level-219ug/m3

It seems Pakistan has taken up many ranks in this list. With already three major cities to feature in the list, this one is fourth. The case of Peshawar is different from the other cities of Pakistan. It is a very traditional city and according to a report the majority of pollution in the city is caused by the urban population residing here. The degradation of air quality is because of this main reason.


6. Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina

Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina

PM Level-216ug/m3

The city of Sarajevo is always fresh in our minds, who can forget the onset of First World War. Well, this beautiful city emerges in this list does surprise me but the fact is that since last few years many manufacturing units have come up in this region and have escalated the pollution levels. The government plans to allow more such units to set up because it is the major source of employment of the majority population. So, this picturesque city of Eastern Europe gets the sixth rank.


7. Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore, Pakistan

PM Level-200ug/m3

Lahore has always been considered the cultural capital of Pakistan, with great mosques in the city. But lately, there have been tremendous growth in automobile, cycles, chemical manufacturing units set up in the city. This entire heavy machinery manufacturing has created heavy pollution in the city air. It has been increasing steeply since last few years. Secondly, the number of vehicles has increased massively, according to a study the vehicle pollution is a major cause in polluting the air of Lahore.


8. New Delhi, India

New Delhi, India

PM Level-198ug/m3

The city of Delhi has always been the magnet of talent, it is one of the biggest cities of India, and has attracted industries from major parts of North and West India. The pollution levels have always been high in the city because of massive industrialization in the Okla. region, urbanization of the city with ever increasing population levels, suburbs sprawled near the city to support the overload of Delhi. But, this megacity is constantly developing from infinite Mercedes to millions of two wheelers; the pollution level is difficult to check.


9. Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan

PM Level-193ug/m3

Karachi is the financial capital of Pakistan, with close proximity to the Arabian sea , it is a very busy business hub. Its contribution in the economy of Pakistan is huge. Many financial companies are located here. The pollution levels are all time high , the population of the city is very high and being a financially strong city , the number of vehicles are also increasing, ultimately giving a steep increase in pollution levels.


10. Islamabad ,Pakistan

Islamabad ,Pakistan

PM Level- 189ug/m3

This capital city of Pakistan has always been the hotspot of industrial development. The city has many important headquarters of companies. The main problem with this city is that there are too many industries coming up in this region as the city has been traditionally considered as a safe haven in the disturbed state of Pakistan. In fact, a World Bank report suggests that this city is the best place in the world to start business.


This list gives us certain conclusions which need to be highlighted. The development and industrialization which made the Western Economies stronger, is now taking place in the Asian and Soviet Bloc countries. The countries want more development to generate income for their economy that is why you can see almost all the cities are from the continent of Asia.

There are many cities of China and India which are following closely in this list. It clearly reflects that the need for energy resources for the economies is increasing the pollution levels at all time high. The conventions and summits are held to address this issue with western economies asking the Asian nations to reduce carbon footprint and in retaliation these countries saying that much damage has already been done by the developed nations. This tug of war creates problem for our planet as a whole , the temperature of earth is rising at record levels, consequently heavy floods lash out, who can forget the Uttarakhand tragedy.

To many, this may seem as any other list of facts and figures, but the serious repercussions these pose to us is difficult to understand. The solution to all this is sustainable economic development, well again it may sound overly fashionable for the developing countries because they are at the beginning of their economic development, they should have complete access to the energy resources but judicious use should be done. As an individual everyone should do their level best to reduce pollution .This is not a one day task, but a long and tedious herculean task to be done by us. Probably, it is a very debatable issue which is raised here and healthy solutions should be brought up so that the mankind can be saved from potential danger of extinction. However there is always a way where there is will. Hope is the only thing which we can do currently so that this list does not get created in the future.

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