While the UK issues a weather warning over Saharan dust cloud, over 1,500 cities around the world have a higher level of pollution
Despite its reputation as a smog-filled metropolis affected by air pollution, dust from the Sahara and other forms of air-borne toxicity, London is only the 2,516th worst polluted city in the world.
The most polluted city is Nyala in Sudan and other Sudanese cities make up six of the top 10 places, according to a report by the World Bank.
Developing nations are home to the most polluted cities in the world – with Pakistan, Iraq and Egypt having the most cities in the top 100 of the list.
New York and Berlin fared worse than the British capital, in 2445th and 2312nd places respectively, but Manchester, Edinburgh and Paris all recorded cleaner air than London.
The highest ranked European city is Georgia’s capital Tsbilsi – having the 268th most polluted air in the world.
The report was based on a pool of 3,226 world cities with populations larger than 100,000, as well as including national capitals.
However, a smaller report by the World Health Organization this year ranked London 940th out of 1622 cities.
It took measurements from “monitoring stations located in urban background, residential, commercial and mixed areas” and also including measuring PM2.5 (fine particulate matter).
Indian city Delhi takes the dubious honour of number one spot, according to the data.
Residents of the Indian capital, on an average day, breathe air that contains almost 10 times as many fine particles as the London mean.
Nonetheless, it is still significantly more than the WHO annual mean guideline.
London does, however, still earn its nickname as “The Big Smoke” – because although PM2.5 is responsible for the greatest number of deaths worldwide, nitrogen dioxide kills more people in London, responsible for 5,879 deaths.
Nitrogen dioxide was a key factor of VW’s attempt to rig its emissions statistics.
The capital’s shopping hotspot Oxford Street was last year named the most polluted street on earth.
Simon Birkett, founder of the Clean Air in London campaign, said: “With most of the breaches of NO2 [nitrogen dioxide] laws in London due to diesel vehicles on Transport for London roads, it is clear the mayor has failed to help boroughs comply with these limits.”
Sian Berry, the Green Party’s London Mayoral candidate, added: “Simply not enough is being done to invest in green industries throughout the UK. But there are robust moral and economic arguments to do so.”
Last week, 195 countries met in Paris to make an historic agreement to fight climate change, aiming to abandon fossil fuels this century and to limit global warming to 2°c.
More than three million people die prematurely each year from air pollution and this figure is set to double by 2050.