The World Daily
China, India and Pakistan have 94 of the 100 most polluted cities

Shanghai. Photo by Ralf Leineweber on Unsplash


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | NOVEMBER 22nd 2021 


According to a 2020 study on air pollution across the world by the air-quality tracker IQAir, 94 out of the 100 most polluted cities in the world could all be found in China, India, and Pakistan.

1.67 million deaths in India were caused by air pollution back in 2019 according to The Lancet, and then in 2020; 9 of the top 10 most polluted cities were all found in India. The country is known to struggle with air quality, especially around its cities. Last week, schools in the country’s capital of New Delhi had to shut down due to the severity of the air pollution.

Air pollution is typically measured through particulate matter – which comprises of tiny particles in the air that are known to have negative impacts on human health. The exact level of air quality is determined largely by amount of PM2.5, PM10, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide found in the air.

Of the 2020 study of the world’s 100 most polluted cities, 46 belonged to India, 42 to China and 6 to Pakistan. The remaining 6 cities belonged to Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia. Poor air quality is particularly on the rise in Pakistan, with experts warning that this could be disastrous for the country if nothing continues to be done about it.

“PM2.5 concentration is currently 5.9 times above the WHO annual air quality guideline value,” said Muhammad Irfan Khan, a professor of environmental sciences at Islamabad's International Islamic University. “The PM2.5 is generated by vehicles and factories, and also other seasonal factors such as stubble burning in winter months.”

Annually, an estimated 128,000 Pakistani people die due to illnesses related to air pollution in the country, according to the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution. Air pollution is also the main cause of death in the passing of every one in ten children aged under 5 years.

The cities of Lahore and Karachi rank among the most polluted cities worldwide according to IQAir’s most recent data. The data also suggests that Lahore is the most polluted place on Earth at the moment, with a standing air quality index (AQI) of 372. 


25% of carbon emissions in Pakistan can be attributed to vehicles, said Mome Saleem, an Islamabad-based environmentalist who believes that transportation and the burning of low-quality fuel are what’s responsible for the state of the country.

She added: “Our green belts are also shrinking because we are trying to make way for cars and vehicles.”

The Pakistani government have taken some measures to ensure better air quality by ordering a switchover to Euro 5 emission standards on all vehicles due for approval as of January 2021. However, there is a very low number of Euro 5 vehicles yet in the country, according to environmental affairs and policies expert Ali Tauqeer Shaikh.

Only 5% of the vehicles in Pakistan at the current moment are Euro 5 approved, though there are hopes that this number will gradually improve. At the moment though, many are discouraged from making the purchase of these kinds of vehicles due to heavy taxation.

“The government is making efforts at different levels to reduce air pollution by promoting cleaner technologies, supporting research and development through the Higher Education Commission and enforcing regulatory compliance,” added Irfan Khan. 


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2021 

Source: Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, The Telegraph