The dirtiest cities in the world 2024; check the list | World news
5 mins read

The dirtiest cities in the world 2024; check the list | World news

It is often said that the air we breathe is the essence of life. However, for residents of some cities, the air they breathe every day is far from clean. Over the past few decades, air pollution has become a major global problem, causing numerous health and environmental problems.

The problem of environmental pollution is clearly illustrated by the presence of some of the dirtiest cities in the world. These cities struggle with serious levels of air, water and soil pollution, which pose significant health risks to their inhabitants and highlight wider environmental challenges. Factors contributing to their poor environmental quality include industrial emissions, vehicle pollution, inadequate waste management systems and in some cases natural factors such as dust storms.

Actions to address these challenges typically include policy interventions, technological innovations, public awareness campaigns, and international cooperation. Despite these efforts, the persistent serious pollution in these cities underscores the complexity and multifaceted nature of global environmental problems. Here’s a look at the 10 dirtiest cities in the world in 2024 and the urgent need for change.

List of the 10 dirtiest cities based on the AQI index

Product Quality Index
1 Kinshasa democratic republic of Kongo 169
2 Beijing China 160
3 Lahore Pakistan 159
4 New York USA 152
5 Jakarta Indonesia 137
6 Delhi India 133
7 Sao Paulo Brazil 128
8 Chicago USA 125
9 Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam 123
10 Santiago Chile 114

The dirtiest cities in the world

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo | AQI: 169

Kinshasa is the most polluted city in 2024. With an AQI of 169, it falls into the “Unhealthy” category, meaning that anyone can start to feel health effects, and members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects. Factors contributing to these high levels of pollution include rapid urbanization, heavy traffic emissions, and industrial activity. The city’s infrastructure is struggling to keep up with population growth, leading to poor waste management and increased emissions from waste incineration.

Beijing, China | AQI: 160
Beijing is no stranger to air pollution challenges. With an AQI of 160, it is also classified as “unhealthy.” Beijing’s pollution is largely caused by industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust, and construction dust. Despite government efforts to reduce pollution through stricter regulations and the promotion of green technology, the sheer scale of economic activity and reliance on coal for energy still contribute significantly to poor air quality.

Lahore, Pakistan | Domestic Product Quality Index: 159
Lahore’s AQI of 159 places it firmly in the “unhealthy” range. The city’s air quality is compromised by a combination of vehicle emissions, industrial discharges, and agricultural waste burning. Seasonal smog, often exacerbated by temperature inversions and wind patterns, further worsens air quality, affecting millions of residents.

New York, USA | AQI: 152
New York City has an AQI of 152, indicating unhealthy air quality. The main sources of pollution are vehicle emissions, industrial activity, and construction dust. Although the city has implemented measures to improve air quality, such as promoting public transportation and green spaces, high population density and ongoing construction projects contribute to persistent pollution.

Jakarta, Indonesia | AQI: 137
Jakarta’s air quality index of 137 falls into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category. The main sources of pollution are road emissions, industrial activities, and residential waste burning. The city’s geographical location and tropical climate often trap pollutants, leading to poor air quality. Measures to address pollution include improving public transport and enforcing stricter emission standards.

Delhi, India | Air Quality Index: 133
Delhi, with an AQI of 133, also falls into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category. The city is known for severe air pollution, caused by vehicular emissions, industrial production and agricultural burning in neighbouring states. Seasonal factors such as Diwali fireworks and winter smog further worsen the situation. Government measures include banning certain vehicles, promoting electric cars and increasing greenery cover.

Sao Paulo, Brazil |AQI: 128
Sao Paulo’s air quality index of 128 is classified as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Air pollution in the city results from vehicle emissions, industrial activity and forest fires in the Amazon region. Measures to combat pollution include improving public transport, promoting cleaner energy sources and implementing stricter environmental regulations.

Chicago, USA|AQI: 125
Chicago has an AQI of 125, which means the air quality is “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Major sources of pollution include vehicle emissions, industrial processes, and construction dust. Seasonal factors, such as temperature inversions and lake-effect weather patterns, can trap pollutants in the city. Initiatives to improve air quality include promoting green infrastructure and improving public transportation.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam |AQI: 123
Ho Chi Minh City’s air quality index of 123 is in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” range. The main contributors to air pollution are emissions from road traffic, industrial activities and construction dust. The city’s rapid urbanization and lack of stringent environmental regulations are exacerbating the problem. Measures to address pollution include expanding public transportation and improving waste management.

Santiago, Chile | Air Quality Index: 114
Santiago’s AQI of 114 is also “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Air pollution in the city is mainly caused by vehicle emissions, industrial production, and residential wood burning. Santiago’s geographical location, surrounded by mountains, often traps pollutants and leads to poor air quality. Efforts to improve air quality include promoting public transportation, regulating industrial emissions, and encouraging the use of cleaner energy sources.

Also read | 10 Most Venomous Snakes in the World: Discover the Most Venomous Snakes