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Begusarai Tops Global List of Most Polluted Cities

Bihar City Ranks First, 83 Indian Cities in Top 100

The city of Begusarai in Bihar is the most polluted city in the world, according to the World Air Quality Report 2023 released by IQAir, a Switzerland-based organization. The report states that out of the top 100 most polluted places globally, 83 are from India. After Begusarai, Guwahati is the second most polluted, followed by Delhi at third place and Mullanpur (Punjab) at fourth.

India Third Most Polluted Country

At a national level, India ranks third behind Bangladesh and Pakistan among the five most polluted countries in the list of 134 nations.

India’s PM2.5 level of 54.4 µg/m3 is more than 10 times higher than the WHO annual guideline, the report highlighted. PM2.5 refers to hazardous fine particulate matter.

South Asia Most Impacted Region

The South Asia region was home to the top 10 most polluted cities worldwide. Factors like climate conditions and trans-boundary haze majorly contributed to rising PM2.5 levels across South-East Asia.

Only 7 out of 134 countries met the WHO annual PM2.5 guideline, including Australia, New Zealand and Iceland.

Gaps in Air Quality Monitoring

While the number of countries monitoring air quality has increased, the report noted significant gaps in government-operated monitoring systems in many parts of the world.

Low-cost monitors hosted by citizen scientists and local organizations are helping reduce these gaps in air monitoring networks globally.

Urgent Need for Action

Commenting on the findings, IQAir’s CEO Frank Hammes stated that access to air quality data saves lives and spurs decisive action to improve air quality.

Greenpeace highlighted that the data serves as an important reminder of air pollution’s health catastrophe and the need to urgently implement solutions.

With only 9% of cities achieving WHO PM2.5 guidelines, the report underscores that much more efforts are needed globally to combat the health and environmental impacts of air pollution.

Key findings

  • French Polynesia region has the cleanest air, while Mauritius as a country has the cleanest air
  • Bangladesh — with a PM2.5 of 79.9 µg/m3 which is 15 times higher than the WHO annual guideline — is the most polluted country
  • Pakistan comes second with 73.7 µg/m3,, which is 14 times higher than the WHO annual guideline
  • A total of 124 (92.5%) out of 134 countries and regions exceeded the WHO annual PM2.5 guideline value of 5 µg/m3
  • Africa remains the most under-represented continent, with a third of the population still lacking access to air quality data

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