With thousands of people dying every year due to poor air quality in these cities, something must be done to alleviate the problem.
This week it was reported that almost 9,500 people lose their lives each year in London due to air pollution-related health problems – almost twice as much as previously thought.
According to research by Kings College London, deaths are caused by two main factors: PM2.5s or Particulate Matter up to 2.5 micrometers in size and the highly toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Although this news is worrying for residents of the capital, there are cities in the world that are dealing with the problem on a much larger scale:
10. Kabul, Afghanistan.
With a population of nearly 12 million, it is no surprise that Guangzhou has one of the worst levels of pollution in China and with its growing industrial sector, more and more people are suffering from asthma, nausea and dizziness.
7. Chongqing, China.
Proving yet again that China has a problem with air pollution, Chongqing has extremely high levels of particles in the air due to the number of power plants cropping up all over the city and recent studies have shown that a worrying 4.63% of children under 14 suffer from asthma.
6. Cairo, Egypt.
According to a survey by WHO, living in the city is equal to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Cairo is also exposed to a poisonous “black cloud” occasionally as farmers partake in the seasonal burning of rice.
5. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
The high levels of air pollution in the city have caused a higher than normal number of cases of chronic bronchitis and cardiovascular diseases. The visibility is also so poor during the day that commuters are forced to use their headlights in order to drive safely.
4. Mexico City, Mexico.
According to research conducted by the University of Salzburg, Mexico City has deadly levels of nearly every airborne pollutant including the toxic carbon monoxide. The city also holds the title of having the highest level of ground-level ozone in the world, according to WHO.
3. Santiago, Chile.
In Santiago, a warning is alerted when the city’s airborne particulate matter exceeds 200 micrograms per cubic meter. However, in 2008, the level hit 444 micrograms. Santiago also has the second highest level of ground-level ozone in the world.
2. New Delhi, India.
The levels of pollution in the city are six times higher than what WHO deems “safe”. The Harvard International Review also reported that two in every five of the city’s 13.8 million residents suffer from some sort of respiratory illness. The main source of pollution is dust being kicked up from overcrowded roads and this puts taxi drivers and construction workers at risk from suffering an early death.
1. Beijing, China.
Beijing’s air pollution has gotten so bad to the point where only rainfall can clear the air (see above). Because of this, officials have asked small children, the elderly and people with respiratory ailments to refrain from being outdoors for a long period of time. The problem temporarily improved during the 2008 Summer Olympics due to the ban on cars but worsened again when the games concluded.