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Top 50 Most Polluted Cities In The World (2024)

The most polluted cities in the world are those that have the worst air quality. This is often as a direct result of human activity; particularly in the form of industry; pollution is often a byproduct of economic growth, which mankind cannot shy away from.

It is easy enough to clean up the environment when the pollutants are in the form of solid waste; either from domestic or industrial production. However, cleaning up the air is a lot more difficult; it takes a lot of money, research, and policy maker.

What is more; the results of some of the steps taken so far are being contested.

Top 50 Most Polluted Cities In The World

1. Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore, in Pakistan currently holds the record for the worst air quality in the world. It is the second largest city in Pakistan; with a population of around 13 million people.

This is a major economic hub in the country; the center of industry and creativity. Lahore is also an important center of culture in the country and region. This is one of the most socially liberal parts of Pakistan; which makes it ideal for retail commerce, industry, and technology driven businesses.

That has come at a cost; Lahore has become known for being one of the cities with the worst air qualities in the world. It common to see people wearing nose masks; not because of any bacteria or virus; but because of the fumes and smells coming out of the factories which are sometimes located near residences, markets, and other public places.

2. Hotan, China

Hotan is a city in southwestern Xinjiang, an autonomous region in Western China. Since 1984, this city has been witnessing rapid development which has led to a steep rise in population, and the increase in the number of industrial establishments.

Hotan has a population of 408,900 which is quite small, but it is strategically located along the Silk Road, which makes it a historic meeting point for commerce, ideas, philosophy, and information.

Hotan is located at the edge of the vast Taklamakan Desert. This means that it is susceptible to dust storms coming in from the dessert. The dust particles from the dessert vastly reduce the air quality in the city.

3. Bhiwadi, India

Bwiwadi is a city in India. This is actually a well planned city located in the Alwar district which is in the state of the Rajasthan, in northern India. It has residencies and commercial properties, which are neatly separated into zones, while an airport is located just 50k m to the north from the city.

This city is home to numerous companies and factories; most of them being of Taiwanese and Japanese origin. It must be mentioned that these companies support the local economy with the jobs they provide; and as a result they are pillars of the city.

However, Bhiwadi is polluted. Coming into the city one can see the smoke and soot rising high into the sky. It is the work of the factories; and as a result of their activities the air quality in the city is very bad. In fact Bhiwadi was the most polluted city in the world not long ago.

4. Delhi, India

Delhi is a city in India; it is the capital territory of India; hence the most important city in the country. India has a population of around 11 million people, and it is one of the most developed cities in the whole of Asia.

Delhi has many important historical and cultural landmarks, and it also has plenty of industrial and commercial activity. Delhi is a city where jobs are abundant; and despite the fact that it leads to an influx of fresh job seekers; it produces a healthy economy for the city.

That healthy economy comes at the cost of an unhealthy atmosphere; the city has quite a disturbing level of carbon monoxide in the air. Other kinds of pollution include dust, and chemicals. Smog is a serious problem in Delhi; and as a result it is not uncommon to see residents of the city wearing nose masks as they go about their daily activities.

5. Peshawar, Pakistan

Peshawar is a city in Pakistan. It is located in the northwest of the country; in what is known as the valley of Peshawar. The city is culturally and historically significant; it was the seat of an ancient Empire, and has since been a significant trading and economic post.

Peshawar has a population of around 2.3 million people; making it the sixth largest in the country. This is a very important city to Pakistan; Peshawar’s Industrial Estate on Jamrud Road is an industrial zone which has industries such as furniture, marble industries, and food processing companies.

Peshawar is a place where people commute to on a daily basis in order to work in the industries; although there many of the workers are in the informal sector; there is a lot of economic growth in the city.

That economic growth comes at the cost of bad air quality; Peshawar is one of the most polluted cities in the world, with a high amount of dust, as well as elemental and organic carbon which is the by product of the industries.

6. Darbhanga, India

Darbhanga is located in the Indian state of Birha; where it is the 5th largest city. It has a lot of historical importance; it was the seat of an ancient empire. This city has a population of around 296,000 people.

Darbhanga is located on a large plain; which makes it quite good for agriculture. Grains like rice, and wheat, as well as oilseeds, tobacco, sugarcane, and mangoes are all important cash crops in this area; it supplies many parts of the country with these products, and also with fish which is also important here.

Food processing is also important; it provides jobs for many people in the area. There is also an airport as well as many educational institutions in the city; all adding to the economic strength of the city.

Darbhanga has all this economic growth causing a side effect which is reduced air quality. This is one of the cities with the worst air quality; a result of the industries and factories in the area.

7. Asopur, India

Asopur is a town in Uttah Pradesh, the most populous state in the country, located in the north of the country. Asopur is not particularly big; its land area measures around 57 hectares, while the population is just around 2700 people.

However there is quite some industrial activity in the area which has shown promise for the future in the area of food processing among other industries.

The city also has a lot of pollution arising from the burning of wood and coal for cooking and heating purposes in domestic homes. This has actually been named as one of the principal reasons why the air is so polluted in the city.

8. N’djamena, Chad

N’djamena is the capital city in chad; it is also the largest city in the country. It is located in the southwest of the country; which although quite far removed from the desert is still quite arid as per the general geology of the country.

N’djamena has a population of around 1.5 million people. There is plenty of Arabic, French, and African influences in the cultural landscape of the city. This is also quite evident in the landmarks across the city.

N’djamena is a place of importance in the area of agriculture. Another important economic sector is the oil and gas sector; which provides employment, and boosts the services sector. However, N’djamena is known for its poor air quality which is not unconnected to the desert.

9. New Delhi, India

New Delhi is the capital of India; and a part of Delhi which is the federal territory of the country. It is the location of all three branches of power in India; making it the most important city in the country.

New Delhi has a very picturesque landscape; there are many impressive landmarks scattered throughout the city. New Delhi is also a hub of economic activity; retail commerce, manufacturing, and so many other activities are on going in this fine city.

The fine city is troubled by pollution, unfortunately; it has become quite known for its poor level of air quality. About 18 percent of the pollution comes from industries, while another important contributor to the poor air quality is exhaust fumes from the large number of motor vehicles using the roads.

It is common to find issues of smog; while the people regularly go about with nose masks when the situation is especially bad.

10. Patna, India

Patna is another Indian city to find itself on this list; it is the capital of the state of Bihar. Patna is located in the east of India, where it is one of the most important cities. It has a population of 2.35 million people. Patna also has some very important historical and cultural sites; which all the more add to its importance.

Patna has long been an important hub of trade; particularly the export of agricultural produce such as sugar cane, rice, sesame, and other things. In the last decade there have been many food processing industries set up in the area.

Retail shopping is also an important part of the city; and many luxury shops have also sprang up in the city as well. Now, there are also industries like motorcycle manufacturing, tractor manufacturing, and cement production.

The following is a more complete list of the most polluted cities in the world.

Rank City Air Pollution Index Location
1 Lahore, Pakistan 97.4 Western Asia
2 Hotan, China 94.3 Southeast Asia
3 Bhiwadi, India 92.7 Western Asia
4 Delhi (NCT), India 92.6 Western Asia
5 Peshawar, Pakistan 91.8 Western Asia
6 Darbhanga, India 90.3 Western Asia
7 Asopur, India 90.2 Western Asia
8 N’Djamena, Chad 89.7 Central Africa
9 New Delhi, India 89.1 Western Asia
10 Patna, India 88.9 Western Asia
11 Ghaziabad, India 88.6 Western Asia
12 Dharuhera, India 87.8 Western Asia
13 Baghdad, Iraq 86.7 Middle East
14 Chapra, India 85.9 Western Asia
15 Muzaffarnagar, India 85.5 Western Asia
16 Faisalabad, Pakistan 84.5 Western Asia
17 Greater Noida, India 83.2 Western Asia
18 Bahadurgarh, India 82.2 Western Asia
19 Faridabad, India 79.7 Western Asia
20 Muzaffarpur, India 79.2 Western Asia
21 Noida, India 78.7 Western Asia
22 Jind, India 77.9 Western Asia
23 Karagandy, Kazakhstan 77.8 Central Asia
24 Charkhi Dadri, India 77.4 Western Asia
25 Rohtak, India 74.7 Western Asia
26 Gaya, India 74.3 Western Asia
27 Alampur, India 74.1 Western Asia
28 Kurukshetra, India 73.8 Western Asia
29 Bhiwani, India 73.5 Western Asia
30 Kashgar, China 73.4 Southeast Asia
31 Meerut, India 72.6 Western Asia
32 Hisar, India 72.3 Western Asia
33 Bhagalpur, India 72.1 Western Asia
34 Yumananagar, India 72 Western Asia
35 Bahawalpur, Pakistan 71.4 Western Asia
36 Bulandshahr, India 70.9 Western Asia
37 Hajipur, India 70.4 Western Asia
38 Gurugram, India 70 Western Asia
39 Lohar Majra Kalan, India 70 Western Asia
40 Dadri, India 69.3 Western Asia
41 Kaithal, India 68.7 Western Asia
42 Faridkot, India 68.4 Western Asia
43 Fatehgarh Sahib, India 68.1 Western Asia
44 Hapur, India 68.1 Western Asia
45 Jayant, India 67.8 Western Asia
46 Ambala, India 67.1 Western Asia
47 Manama, Bahrain 66.6 Middle East
48 Kanpur, India 66.2 Western Asia
49 Dhaka, Bangladesh 65.8 Western Asia
50 Fatehabad, India 65.7 Western Asia



Available data indicates that the most polluted cities in the world are mostly located in Western Asia; with India making the most contributions to the number. Southeast Asia and the Middle East also suffer from air pollution, but it seems that technology is proving quite effective in dispelling polluted air; thus improving air quality.

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