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100 Most Polluted Cities Are In Asia. 83 Located in One Country


An annual report on global air quality found that 83 of the world’s 100 most polluted cities in 2022 were in India, exceeding WHO guidelines on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by over 10 times.

Begusarai, India had the highest pollution at 23 times the guidelines.

“We see that in every part of our lives that air pollution has an impact,” IQAir Global CEO Frank Hammes said. “And it typically, in some of the most polluted countries, is likely shaving off anywhere between three to six years of people’s lives. And then before that will lead to many years of suffering that are entirely preventable if there’s better air quality.”

Central and South Asia performed worst overall. While most regions saw increased pollution levels return after pandemic declines, some US cities improved due to less wildfire smoke.

China reversed years of pollution reductions, and pollution increased in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

“What’s also worrisome in many parts of the world is that the things that are causing outdoor air pollution are also sometimes the things that are causing indoor air pollution,” Hammes said. “So cooking with dirty fuel will create indoor exposures that could be many times what you’re seeing outdoors.”

Africa suffers from a lack of air quality monitoring.

The climate crisis plays a “pivotal role” in worsening pollution by altering weather patterns and causing more wildfires and pollen seasons.

“We have such a strong overlap of what’s causing our climate crisis and what’s causing air pollution,” Hammes said. “Anything that we can do to reduce air pollution will be tremendously impactful in the long term also for improving our climate gas emissions, and vice versa.”

“There is so much hidden air pollution still on the planet,” he added.

Public pressure is growing for more comprehensive air quality data worldwide.

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