Pollution level: 123 ug/m3
Kuwait is one of four oil-rich Middle Eastern nations to make the list. It is also the fourth largest exporter of oil among OPEC countries, with the petroleum industry accounting for half of Kuwait’s GDP.
Kuwait made headlines during the first Gulf War in 1990 when Iraqi troops set fire to its oil fields, creating massive air pollution and ground contamination. That led to a decades long environmental clean up.
Today, pollution is largely caused by local oil refineries and industrial plants. Last year, 15,000 students protested against pollution but the government has maintained that levels of air pollution are within environmental standards. Some plants though have been temporarily closed to improve air quality.
A 2010 global survey by consulting firm Gallup found that 57 percent of Kuwaitis were dissatisfied with the air quality in the area they lived in. Local residents are reported to suffer from high rates of respiratory diseases such as asthma, cancer and skin conditions.