Sustainable Energy

Here are the world’s 10 most polluted cities – 9 are in India

Shafi Musaddique
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The World Health Organization's (WHO) latest study on the most polluted places on the planet is out, and it's damning for one country in particular. Of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, nine are in India.

Whittled down from the WHO's study of over 4,000 cities in 100 countries, CNBC takes a look at the 10 most polluted cities in the world based on a comparison of the average amount of PM2.5 — a particle considered so small that it can enter the lungs and cause serious health problems.

1. Kanpur, India

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The city of Kanpur in northern India has an annual PM2.5 level of 173 micrograms per cubic meter, far higher than the WHO's recommendation of no more than 10 mcg per cubic meter.

2. Faridabad, India

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The largest and most populous city in the state of Haryana, Faridabad borders India's capital New Delhi. Heavy traffic is just one factor that contributes to its annual average of 172 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5.

3. Varanasi, India

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Home to the Ganges river, Varanasi is India's spiritual home. Hindu pilgrims bathe in the river, but there is increasing concern that the air quality in the holy city has reached a crisis point. The city recorded 151 micrograms per cubic meter of the most dangerous particles.

4. Gaya, India

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Another holy city with a myriad of both Hindu and Buddhist temples. Gaya notched 149 micrograms per cubic meter.

5. Patna, India

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A sprawling ancient city on the banks of the Ganges, Patna is noisy and congested city and is used as a transport hub. It recorded 144 micrograms of PM 2.5.

6. Delhi, India

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Formerly the world's most polluted city, Delhi has partially cleaned up its act but still averages PM2.5 levels of 143.

7. Lucknow, India

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Famed for its Mughal architecture and colonial-era buildings, Lucknow's parks aren't enough to keep it out of the top 10. Lucknow recorded a PM2.5 average of 138.

8. Bamenda, Cameroon


Unlike India's smog-filled cities, this Cameroonian city's air quality is compounded by extensive deforestation. It recorded an average of 132.

9. Agra, India

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No other monument springs to mind quicker than the Taj Mahal. Yet the city, in India's Uttar Pradesh state, is falling behind rapidly. Polluting cooking fuels as well as cars contribute to the poor air quality. Agra's average PM2.5 level is 131.

10. Muzaffarpur, India

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This city can become extremely hot and humid in the summer, reaching average temperatures of 104 Fahrenheit. Its PM2.5 average is 120.

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