From centuries ago when life was simpler, people lived life as healthy beings, not being bothered about the plethora of hazards such as the greenhouse gases and the depleting ozone layer, but rather their main concern is getting a healthy meal on the table for their families. Yes, there were several plagues that were the talk of the day, such as the great black death and dreaded smallpox, but none of that compares to the pile of garbage we’ve made for ourselves today.
Hosting some of the most polluted cities in the world, our earth is far from what it was before. Don’t get me wrong people back in the day had their own problems to worry about, but the amount of pollution we’ve spread for ourselves, our ancestors probably were better off kicking the bucket long ago (Yikes!)
So without further ado, let’s bring to you the 15 most polluted cities in the world
*Dramatic drumroll noises*
Ah, Africa, the continent that literally no one cares about. The media says they care about it, the people say they care about it, but honestly, no one really does (the shame). The capital of Uganda comes at number 15 in our list of most polluted cities. With busy streets filled with an entire platoon of vehicles, researchers have cited the greatest source of pollution to be in fact (you guessed it) urban transportation.
Now don’t tell me you were not expecting India to be on the list. It’s a population well on its way to reaching 2 billion all cramped up in a single country. Of course, it had to be on the list! Just southwest of the capital New Delhi, Jaipur may host some of the most religious places known to India, but also is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Known for the everlasting smog around the entire city due to the city producing more pollution than it can bear, all cramped up in a very small area, we wouldn’t exactly recommend breathing in too deep. But hey! You only live once, right?
This unknown land, the (slightly elder) twin brother of the capital city of Pakistan, is not exactly what you would term as “clean”. The entire city hosts a huge number of people and motor vehicles in a very small area, but that’s not the main reason why it has a reputation for being a polluted city. In fact, it’s more of the industrial processes that are taking its toll on the city. Hosting a number of steel-rolling mills, leather tanning facilities, marble factories, and oil refineries, the constant waste produced is considerably ruining the air quality day by day.
Yet another city from the Subcontinent, Peshawar, like Rawalpindi, is home to a large number of brick kilns. With a huge number of people dependent on them for sustenance, it is one of the things that the government may be able to reduce, but cannot possibly shut down. The result? A breeding ground for various breathing problems, and a toxic city for asthmatics.
Unsurprisingly, the number 11 on our list is yet another city from India. Muzaffarpur, a city located in the state of Bihar just South of Nepal. Home to one of the most delicious Litchi fruits on the planet, it is also notorious for spreading a huge amount of pollution through the land, air, and water. In fact, the British medical journal had exclusively stated that 33 percent of the deaths in the entire state of Bihar (including Muzaffarpur) in 2017 was due to pollution-related diseases. Not an achievement you’d want to be a part of.
When your country is packed with the number of people greater than the population of entire Europe, it’s bound to have a few problems, and pollution is by far the most obvious one. Gurugram is home to offices of some of the largest companies in the world such as Google and Intel but is also known for the terrible air quality, which brings it to number 10 on our list. WHO had determined the annual recommended levels for PM 2.5 pollution in cities (A fancy name for a type of air quality). This city has levels that are 12 times more than that recommendation, brilliant !!
Home to the Taj Mahal, home to one of the biggest tourist spots in India, and home to an utterly mind-blowing amount of pollution! The amount of haze in the area, produced by burning scraps to extract metals, is absolutely astonishing. The air pollutant levels are so high in the area that hospitals are filled with patients primarily suffering from some form of respiratory disease. So for your honeymoon to Agra, why not pack a few face masks as well.
Finally! A city that does not belong to India. We’re back in Africa, taking a journey to the mountainous city of Bamenda in Cameroon. This city, unlike the rest of the places in the list, is not subject to industrial wastes or vehicles but is polluted due to the large amount of deforestation taking place around the area. Due to this, the city of Bamenda has had an ever changing weather pattern causing the air quality to drop considerably, which gives it the number 8 spot on our list.
Buckle up, because we’re going straight back to India! It’s pretty much become obvious at this point that India is one of the central areas for pollution, and we can’t really blame them. After all, what do you do with that many people, it’s just bound to happen! However, the country is taking steps to increase the use of public transportation to lower the pollution from vehicle emissions. They’ve even built a metro rail service just to counter this. A step in the right direction.
What would be the list without mentioning India’s capital? Home to over 30 million people, Delhi is not only famous for its landmarks but also famous for being one of the most polluted cities on the planet. Although number 6 on the list may seem pretty bad to begin with, Delhi is actually fighting its way back to cleanliness. However, since it’s an industrial city, it is bound to have a huge amount of air pollution from vehicles and burning waste, which still keeps it at a much higher place in our list.
Once known as the city of gardens, Lahore has recently become known for the thick layer of smog during autumn and winter. The smog is so thick that visibility can be as low as in double-digit meters, and causes various respiratory problems to even the healthiest of people. Industrial wastes, vehicle emissions, and removal of greenery to build new colonies all takes a toll on the air in the city.
Known by many as the “spiritual capital of India”, Varanasi holds some of the most religious monuments in Hinduism, all cramped up near the river Ganges. Although people arrive from all areas to perform spiritual acts of worship at the holy river, they end up polluting the entire area with heaps of garbage. Since the city is cramped up in a very small area, with no proper drainage and centuries old buildings, the amount of pollution keeps piling up and ultimately ending up in the river.
We’re going back and forth with India and Pakistan in who is the best at having the worst conditions to live in, and here is another one from the subcontinent. The city of Faisalabad is home to one of the largest textile industries in the region, but where does all the industrial waste go? Well on the streets and in the canal of course! The city has very little work done when it comes to waste management, and keeps on piling up more garbage than it can bear. The PM 2.5 index for January 2020 was right on the border of the hazardous range, and doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.
As we take a break from the Indian subcontinent and move towards the Far East region, we see a small oasis town called Hotan in the Xinjiang province. This town, although home to just over 400,000 people, is the epicenter of air pollution due to being surrounded by the Taklamakan Desert. The sandstorms in the region can cause the PM 2.5 levels to dramatically increase in just a couple of hours, with people struggling to drive even across the streets in many cases.
And finally to our list we have Kanpur, a large industrial city home to the 11th largest population in India. The city is famous for its leather tanneries, which process hides and leather in thousands of tons per day. However, one byproduct of such a process is the release of chromium, which mixes with the air to create toxicity that is not just hazardous for humans but also the environment in general, which helps it cement it’s spot as the number one polluted city in the world.