The Most (and the Least) Polluted Cities in the World

Tracking the levels of tiny particulates that can cause respiratory health issues, IQ Air spills the beans on the most polluted cities around the globe.

Most polluted: Gurugram, India

Gurgaon / Gurugram, New Delhi, India - December 13, 2018: Architecture of Cyber City (Cyberhub)Marcin Mierzejewski/Shutterstock

IQ Air—it develops technology to help protect people from airborne pollution—recently released its 2018 world air quality report. Gurugram took the crown as the most polluted city in the world. It's not alone in India: Of the top 20 most polluted cities worldwide, 15 are in India. Because it is so close to the capital of New Delhi, Gurugram is developing rapidly. However, nonstop construction and an exploding population have had harsh environmental and health consequences. Check out these scary things air pollution does to your body.

Most polluted: Faisalabad, Pakistan

Aerial View Of Clock Tower FaisalabadHanan Khaleeq/Shutterstock

The first on the list not in India, nearby Faisalabad gets the nod for IQ Air's third most polluted city. It is also the third largest city in Pakistan. A report published in the International Journal of Chemistry and Material Science cites rapid population growth, industrialization, and deforestation as key factors in Faisalabad's developing pollution problem.

Most polluted: Hotan, China

China Desert Xinjiang - Jun 2008Iris Ying/EPA/Shutterstock

The only other non-Indian city to make the top 10, the western China city of Hotan takes eighth place on IQ Air's list. In this region of Xinjiang, coal burning and production is extremely high. Not only that, but the natural elements aren't kind to residents, either. Along with the usual harms from development and population growth, Hotan—according to a report from the China Environmental Health Project—experiences sand-filled wind more than 300 days out of the year.

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