17 Top Most Polluted Countries in the World as of 2020
Reporters have again and again given an account of the level of pollution in various countries and cities across the globe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), for instance, there are countries whose pollution levels can cause a sore throat by a mere half an hour of sightseeing. This shows just how devastating the pollution problem is, and to make matters even worse, such high polluting countries are usually regarded as unattractive and never in demand.
In other words, pollution may be part and parcel of life because it cannot be completely avoided as long as there is fossil fuel combustion, industrial processes, the running of power plants, and forest fires, just to mention a few.
However, as much as populations prefer cleanliness and neatness in a lot of their activities, there are certain countries that rank and perform poorly because of their high pollution levels, and some have the worst pollution records. Accordingly, this article shows the 17 top most polluted countries in the world as of 2020.
The data is compiled from the IQAir Air Quality Index of world’s most polluted countries (PM 2.5) according to data aggregated from over 60,000 data points.
Bangladesh is now the most polluted country with 1st rank and an average concentration of PM 2.5 of 79ug/m3. The country is home to over 166 million people. This population is a strain on the available resources, such as air. For this reason, there is a lot of pollution from industries and human activities. Also, there are three cities from Bangladesh that appear among the top most polluted cities. The life expectancy is 70 for both genders.
Pakistan has an average concentration of PM 2.5 of 101ug/m3 holding 2nd position in the world. The country, with a population of 200.8 million, is among the most populated countries in the world. The outdoor air in Pakistan is of the worst quality. Also, the country leads in air pollution.
The country’s life expectancy is quite low, with an average of 64 for males and 66 for females. There are various cities that make to the top ten lists of the dirtiest cities. Three of them are from Pakistan, making the country the most polluted. Consequently, there has been an increase in the respiratory diseases caused by the polluted air.
This is a small country, just like Qatar, but with a very low GDP (PPP) per capita. Although their populations are almost similar, the GDP (PPP) per capita of Mongolia is at $5,371, while that of Qatar is at $96,903.
With an average concentration of PM 2.5 of 64ug/m3, it is the 3rd most polluted country in the world. This is attributed to the burning of coal that is done regularly to overcome the cold weather. These carbon emissions go a long way to polluting the air. The practice has since lowered life expectancy, which is at 68 years for both males.
It has an average concentration of PM 2.5 of 84 ug /mg3, making it the fourth most polluted country in the world. In comparison with Qatar, it has a very low GDP (PPP) per capita but a high population.
The life expectancy is quite low at 60 years for both genders. The low expectancy is owed to the fact that there is a lot of pollution in the atmosphere. This is caused by the burning of rubber and plastics. Also, the constant driving to work increases carbon emissions to the air.
India is on 5th position. The average concentration of PM 2.5 in India is 59ug/m3. This is the second biggest country in terms of population with a population of over one billion, just behind China. The GDP (PPP) per capita of the country is a bit low ($5,777) owing to the large population.
The large population is the source of the problem because it puts a strain on the use of resources. The pressure on industries, water sources, and food companies warrants for more industrial activities, which leads to more releases of waste products into the environment as well as rivers such as Ganges.
Indonesia is on 6thposition. The average Indonesian can expect to lose 1.2 years of life expectancy at current pollution levels, according to the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), because air quality fails to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline for concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
The pollution index, developed by Michael Greenstone and his colleagues at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), shows that the health effects are much larger in parts of the country with particularly high particulate pollution. Residents of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, for example, can expect to lose 2.3 years of life expectancy if 2016 pollution levels are sustained over their lifetime.
This is a small country with a meager population of 1.3 million, the lowest in this group. It is the 7th most polluted country with an average concentration of PM 2.5 of 57ug/m3. It may be a small country, but it has a powerful GDP (PPP) per capita of $28,559. The country is highly oriented towards massive industrialization. Consequently, there are very high carbon emissions and energy loss to the atmosphere, which causes air pollution.
Owing to the powerful GDP (PPP) per capita and a manageable population, the country has great health facilities, which have boosted the life expectancy to 76 for females and 73 for males.
With an average concentration of PM 2.5 of 51ug/m3, Nepal makes it to number 8 on this list. With an approximate population of 29 million, it is fairly a small country. The country, which is closest to the Himalaya, is feared to negate the glaciers or the beauty of the Himalayas due to increased levels of air pollution.
The pollution has led to respiratory diseases. Car emissions have also intensified with the increased use of outdated vehicles.
Uzbekistan ranked as the 9th most polluted country in the world in 2019 with 41.20 score, with the air in 2019 was classified as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” However, in Live Air Quality City Ranking, Tashkent on 63 score with the air was classified as “moderate.”
In accordance with the World Health Organization’s guidelines, the air quality in Iraq is considered unsafe. The most recent data indicates the country’s annual mean concentration of PM2.5 is 62 µg/m3, which exceeds the recommended maximum of 10 µg/m3.
Iraq ranked as the 10th most polluted country in the world in 2019 with 39.60 score, with the air in 2019 was classified as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” However, in Live Air Quality City Ranking, Baghdad having consistently high levels of air pollution on 88 score with the air was classified as “moderate.”
Contributors to poor air quality in Iraq include vehicle emissions, power generators, small fires, especially from oil and gas refineries, and war-induced pollution.
As the world’s largest consumer of solar power, China’s energy industry is attempting to move on from its coal-burning past towards a more sustainable future. But sometimes the past isn’t easily forgotten.
New research published in the journal Nature Energy suggests the country’s densely polluted atmosphere is blocking the sun’s rays, preventing solar panels from harvesting energy efficiently.
China ranked as the 11th most polluted country in the world within 2019 with 39.12 score, with the air in 2019 was classified as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” However, in Live Air Quality City Ranking, its most polluted cities are Kashgar, Kizilsu, Guigang, Hecun, Fushun, Changzhou Qu, Shenyang, Tianjin, on score ranging from 72-134.
12. United Arab Emirates (U.A.E)
This is one of the richest countries in the world. With a small population of over 9 million people, this Middle East country has a GDP (PPP) per capita of $30,984. With an average concentration of PM 2.5 of 61ug/m3, it is the 12th most polluted country.
The heightened level of air pollution in the UAE is due to the excavation of oil, which leads to the subsequent release of harmful gases such as nitrogen oxide. Also, the country is home to many automobiles, thus more carbon emissions. The country has made strides to reduce pollution, for instance, the annual car-free days. The country boasts of a life expectancy of 77 years.
In accordance with the World Health Organization’s guidelines, the air quality in Kuwait is considered unsafe. The most recent data indicates the country’s annual mean concentration of PM2.5 is 61 µg/m3, which exceeds the recommended maximum of 10 µg/m3.
Contributors to poor air quality in Kuwait include vehicle and industrial emissions, oil refineries, and dust storms. Seasonal variations in pollution exist, with higher concentrations of occurring in winter and summer. Available data indicates that Al-Ahmadi and Saad Al-Abdullah/Al-Jahra have consistently high levels of air pollution.
Kuwait is the 13th most polluted country in the world in 2019 with 38.30 scores, with the air in 2019 was classified as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” However, in Live Air Quality City Ranking, Kuwait city & Salwa on 54-55 score with the air was classified as “moderate.”
14. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is the highest-ranking country in Europe for PM2.5 pollution, featuring as the 14th most polluted country globally, with only 4μg/m3 less than China’s national PM2.5 weighted average.
Lukavac, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with several chemical factories, is Europe’s most polluted city, with an average PM2.5 level of 55ug/m3. Tuzla is the third-largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the administrative center of Tuzla Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also highly polluted.
Interestingly, other polluted countries include:
This Middle East country is on 27thrank as per the last data and has an average concentration of PM 2.5 of 76ug/m3. The country is quite populous, with a population of 82 million. It has a good GDP (PPP) per capita, which is close to that of Qatar but still lower at $12,478. This means that the average Iranian can seek medical attention to cater to their respiratory issues. It is for this reason that life expectancy is 74 years.
The country is home to a lot of minerals, including oil. These materials have sulfur, carbon and asbestos, which are poisonous when inhaled. This makes the air in Iran toxic. Khoramabad is the most polluted city in Iran and is among the most polluted cities in the world.
This is the most polluted African country now on 56th rank with an average concentration of PM 2.5 of 74ug/m3. Moreover, it is one of the most populated countries both in Africa and fairly in the world, with a population of around 97 million. The Egyptian population growth is great around the Delta region, which is to the North of the country. It is here that towns and cities have emerged as a result of the growth of industries.
Qatar has an average concentration of PM 2.5 of 92ug/mg3. There are various reasons why Qatar is a surprise entrant on this list. What is surprising is that it is one of the smallest countries in the world. Moreover, at $96,903, it has one of the biggest GDP (PPP) per capita, making it a country for the luxury.
It is because of the GDP (PPP) per capita and the good life that most of the residents can afford health care, thus boasting of a good life expectancy of 78 for females and 79 for males. Like Pakistan, the country has a few cities in the top polluted cities with its own capital city, Doha, on 12th. The air pollution in Qatar is caused by carbon emissions from private cars as well as air traffic.
Cities such as Cairo and Alexandria have grown to become great industrial cities that are both most populated and polluted. On this account, the air pollution in this country is caused by the toxic air releases by the factories in the delta region to the atmosphere. The life expectancy in Egypt is not badly off with an average of 75 years for females and 71 for males.
Moreover, the large population translates to more automobiles, which means more carbon emissions into the atmosphere. It is for this reason that life expectancy is quite low at 69 for women and 67 for men. Worth noting is that Indian cities occupy six slots in the top ten most polluted cities in the world with its capital city, New Delhi, taking the first position.
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