The most polluted city in the world is not, to most people’s surprise, Beijing or Delhi. In fact, neither is in the Top 10. (Delhi is 11th )
In its latest report, released a few days ago, the World Health Organization compared a total of 795 cities in 67 countries for levels of small and fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) between 2008 and 2013.
Sadly, global urban air pollution levels have increased by 8 percent, despite improvements in some regions such as China.
The PM2.5 micro-particles are classed as a Group 1 carcinogen. More than 5.5 million people worldwide are dying prematurely every year as a result of air pollution, according to research by the University of British Columbia. More than half of them are in China and India.
Examples from the MENA region:
You may not have even heard of Zabol but this Iranian city is the most polluted on Earth. It’s PM2.5 annual score is 217. To put things in perspective, the particles’ National Ambient Air Quality Standard, established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is 15 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter of air).
The annual PM2.5 score of Saudi Arabia’s capital is 156. Frequent sandstorms, exhaust from cars stuck in traffic, and industrial waste have been pointed out as the biggest culprits. Riyadh Gov. Prince Khalid in Bandar has ordered the formation of a committee to look into sources of pollution, according to Arab News.
Al-Jubail, a city in the eastern province on the Persian Gulf coast [of Saudi Arabia], has an annual PM2.5 score of 152. Heavy metals due to uncontrolled disposal of industrial waste into coastal area are a huge problem, according to the African Journal of Biotechnology. Wastes from domestic sources, as well as habitat destruction are also contributing to the bad air quality.