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World's 100 most polluted cities are in the same continent — it's not the 1 you think

Air pollution threatens the health of billions of people around the world.

Lack of access to fresh air may result in problems with the functioning of the respiratory system [Shutterstock]

According to a new report published on the IQAir website, the 100 most polluted cities in the world are located in the same continent.

As many as 83 cities are located in one country, where the air quality leaves much to be desired. Billions of people there do not have access to fresh air, which may result in problems with the functioning of the respiratory system and the development of many civilisation-related diseases.

The report by IQAir, a global organisation monitoring air quality, leaves no doubt - the 100 cities with the worst air pollution in the world in 2023 are in Asia.

Air pollution, which threatens the health of billions of people around the world, is directly related to the climate crisis.

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The country that leads the inglorious ranking is India. 83 Indian cities exceeded World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines by more than 10 times.

"Air pollution affects every part of our lives. In some of the most polluted countries, it shortens people's lives by three to six years," commented IQAir Global CEO, Frank Hammes, on the results of the ranking.

At the top of the ranking of the most polluted cities in the world in 2023 was the city of Begusarai, with a population of half a million, in the northern Indian state of Bihar.

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The average annual PM2.5 concentration there was 118.9 — 23 times higher than the WHO guidelines.

Across India, 96% of the population, or 1.3 billion people, live with air quality seven times above these guidelines.

According to an IQAir report, the human-made climate crisis, fueled by the burning of fossil fuels, plays a key role in shaping air pollution levels. It changes weather patterns, leading to changes in wind and rainfall, which affects the spread of pollutants.

The situation is worst in South Asia - 29 of the 30 most polluted cities are in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.

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Without major changes to energy infrastructure and agricultural practices, pollution levels in the region are unlikely to be reduced.

The most dangerous for the functioning of the human respiratory system is fine suspended dust PM2.5, which, when inhaled, can enter the bloodstream.

It may contribute to breathing difficulties, the development of asthma, heart and lung diseases, cancer and other respiratory diseases, and also cause cognitive impairment in children.

The five most polluted countries in 2023 are:

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  1. Bangladesh (79.9 µg/m3) more than 15 times higher than the WHO annual guideline for PM2.5.
  2. Pakistan (73.7 µg/m3)  more than 14 times higher than the WHO annual guideline for PM2.5.
  3. India (54.4 µg/m3)  more than 10 times higher than the WHO annual guideline for PM2.5.
  4. Tajikistan (49.0 µg/m3)  more than 9 times higher than the WHO annual guideline for PM2.5.
  5. Burkina Faso (46.6 µg/m3)  more than 9 times higher than the WHO annual guideline for PM2.5.

Only seven countries met the WHO's annual PM2.5 guidelines (annual average of 5 µg/m3 or less):

  1. Australia
  2. Estonia
  3. Finland
  4. Grenada
  5. Iceland
  6. Mauritius
  7. New Zealand

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This article was originally published on Onet Woman.

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