Top 17 Dirtiest Cities in The World

For the first time ever, more than half of the world’s population is living in cities. However, only 12% of these people are exposed to levels of airborne particle pollution that meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, these cities can be found in Canada and Iceland. Meanwhile, half of the planet’s mega-cities and their inhabitants are exposed to air pollution 2.5 times the WHO guidelines, with many places getting worse rather than improving. Over the past century and a half, carbon dioxide emissions have risen, and there are reports that more that 200 million people have become ill as a direct result of air pollution. In 2012 alone, it’s thought 3.7 million people died prematurely due to air pollution.

Whether it’s in Europe, North America, Africa or Asia, air pollution can have many devastating affects ranging from acid rain to heart disease. In an attempt to combat these issues by raising awareness, WHO studied more than 1,600 cities between 2008 and 2013 to compile a list of the world’s dirtiest cities. Mercer also compiles a Health And Sanitation list annually, which ranks every city in the world according to their cleanliness.

Delhi, India

DelhiLike most cities on this list, Delhi has become synonymous with smog due to industry and traffic, which have combined to create incredibly high levels of particulate matter including carbon, nitrogen, sulphur and metal compounds.

Patna, India

PatnaPatna is the second largest city in eastern India with an estimated population of 1.68 million people. Patna is a crucial location for agricultural trade like grain, sugarcane, sesame and rice, leading to heavy amounts of traffic.

Addis Ababa, Ethopia

Addis_churchillIn 2014, Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa was given a Health And Sanitation Index of 37.9, particularly due it’s high levels of water pollution which have caused many infants’ deaths.

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Gwalior, India

GwaliorOne of the largest cities in central India, Gwalior is surrounded by three industrial and commercial areas: Sitholi, Banmore and Malanpur. The air pollution seems to culminate in Gwalior, leading to high levels of toxins.

Raipur, India

RaipurOver the years, Raipur has transformed into a crucial commercial and industrial area for India, supplying coal, power, steel and aluminum for the whole country.

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico CityMexico City has a particular disadvantage when it comes to air pollution as mountains surround the city, causing the smog to constantly coat the countries’ capital. Mercer’s report – which gave Mexico City a 37.7 rating – said that unhealthy ozone emissions were constant throughout the year, causing major concern.

Karachi, Pakistan

KarachiThough there appears to be lack of sanitation and clean water, it’s rich in air pollution. Vehicle emissions from cars, rickshaws and buses combined with industrial areas and the burning of garbage has earned Karachi its position on this list.

Peshawar, Pakistan

PeshawarLike Karachi, Peshawar’s air pollution is due to vehicle emissions as well as industrial emissions, including brick kiln.

Port au Prince, Haiti

Port au PrinceAs the main port and business center of Haiti it’s no surprise Port au Prince is dealing with pollution issues. Many suggest that the high levels of air pollution may also be due to a lack of control enforced by the government.

Rawalpindi, Pakistan

RawalpindiSituated in the Pothohar region of northern Punjab, Rawalpindi is evolving swiftly. Home to textile mills and an increasing number of vehicles, the air pollution has risen dramatically in the last few decades.

Khorramabad, Iran

KhorramabadKhorramabad, in Lorestan Province, is the epitome of agricultural industry in Iran. In 2012, the health ministry reported 80,000 deaths were caused by pollution across Iran alone.

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Antananarivo, Madagascar

AntananarivoWhen considering Madagascar, many would never even associate the lush paradise as polluted. However, the countries capital Antananarivo is frighteningly polluted due to industrialization and deforestation.

Mumbai, India

MumbaiMercer gave Mumbai a score of 38.2, leaving much to be desired from one of the world’s flourishing economic hubs. As more people arrive from the country and industries pop up all over the place, pollution has coated the city. Fortunately, the local officials are working on strategies to control the worrying levels of air pollution.

Ahmadabad, India

AhmedabadAlthough Ahmadabad is becoming an increasingly successful and important city, the price has been a sharp rise in air pollution. The city is a crucial economic and industrial area for India as it is the second largest producer of cotton, meaning many more factories are being built.

Lucknow, India

LucknowUttar Pradesh’s capital city Lucknow is a particularly polluted area as the combination of poor transport infrastructure and increasing numbers of vehicles has exacerbated the problem infinitely.

Dhaka, Bangladesh

DhakaHome to more than 15 million people, Dhaka is extremely crowded. The local government is reportedly finding it difficult to deal with the pollution that often follows large populations and their vehicles. There is also a lot of water pollution caused by commercial pesticides.

Baku, Azerbaijan

BakuWith a Health And Sanitation score of just 27.6, Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku is Mercer’s dirtiest city. Oil drilling and shipping have lead to worryingly high levels of air pollution, and because the country relies heavily on those activities it’s unlikely they will change anytime soon.

Siobhan Harmer is a video game, coffee and travel lover from England. Although she is the human equivalent of a sloth Siobhan sometimes writes things, most of which you can find on her blog There You Are Sibby.

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65 Comments

  1. esther says:

    it is ok

    • Chandler says:

      No, it is not! I have sacrificed america for these people just to trash their planet. I hate you and despise you.

  2. jafar says:

    hahahahahaha Baku is the most clean city in the world I visit it and it was the cleanest capital city I saw it in my life this website is lying

    • nils says:

      you know that you can not see air pollution with the naked eye do you?

      • Indukuri Ravi varma says:

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.
        But its not correct judge only basing air pollution there are many factors that should be considered when it comes to cleanliness

      • Prasanna says:

        Yes. In Delhi we do.

    • Rajendra Shinde says:

      where it is located?

    • 😈 says:

      it is refering to the air quality

  3. Alexey says:

    In many media it is asserted that UNESCO called Karabash the most polluted city in the world.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xS_yb_ijli8

    • Ni says:

      27 years Karabakh is occupated by Armenians. It is one of the poorest places now.

  4. asif ahmadzai says:

    Why not Kabul?

    • Mushtaque ahmad says:

      Because kabul was never visited.

    • sara says:

      I was born in kabul and kabul is clean

      • 😈 says:

        it is refering to the air quality of the city kabul isn’t clean and you cant see air qualit to the naked eye

  5. waheed says:

    it is ok but rawalpindi is not dirtiest city of pakistan

  6. Peter says:

    It’s really very dirty

  7. Shafqat Hussain says:

    Peshawar is even better than more but we needed to do something more to keep clean our city.

  8. Sam says:

    Though the post is about dirtiest cities,but the pictures are not depicting uncleanliness….

  9. vmd says:

    India is dirty only in some places
    This so honest

    • Tarun says:

      Its not true. No matter which city you visit, you’ll see wrappers of edible items and various plastic and other non bio degradable waste littered all over. Also you can see the poor waste management system of our country, you’ll find a heap of waste every 500m even in the cities like Delhi and Mumbai( not talking about few high class areas).This is the truth. I’m an Indian and I know the people of our country are very arrogant towards the environment. We need to bring a change before its too late.

      • Sankari says:

        Well said, bro. The things you said all true. I’m too from India. The people behave very arrogant towards nature. definitely’ We’ve to bring a change before it’s too late.

      • Abhijeet says:

        Dude you are an Indian. Although what you are saying is right but like me if you were a student in Sydney or anywhere else outside India, you would protest against these international media stereotypes. But the fact that you claim that India is the dirtiest place in the world is dirty, shame on you. Firstly you say that all Indian cities are dirty, but then talk only about Delhi and Mumbai. I went to Indore and Ujjain, and various other cities in MP and Rajasthan and I did not find a single trash item on the roads. But yeah I did find a shameless, dim witted rascal like you

    • Mayank Kulkarni says:

      Yes, our country is unclean in some places only. There are so many better places are present here

  10. Swapnil says:

    Damn India is really dirty

    • Mayank Kulkarni says:

      Not true

      • Twisted Transistor says:

        Where do you live, under a rock? Look around you, man. I bet when you walk out of your house, there’ll be a steaming pile of garbage everywhere. Maybe, you’re so used to these visuals that it all seems rather innocuous to you. Know how most Indians get rid of the garbage on the streets that you see flying about at night, and cows, dogs, rats & pigs rummaging in them for scraps? They burn it, all the plastics included. Indian people are filthy, and will always be so. Its ingrained in us. We just love filth. This country has gone down the shitter already. Before long we’ll all be buried under filth. Its a surprise a massive pandemic hasn’t broken out yet, but it will, soon. We are essentially creating a deathtrap for ourselves. Open drains, near zero waste management, archaic drainage systems, table water dried up, bad supply lines for water with millions of litres lost each day, bad sanitation, and worst of all people who don’t give a shit, and rather just pile on the shit.

        I don’t know about other countries, but India is synonymous to filth. Ironically, more filth in the brains than on the streets, which is why nobody cares. If you are seeing Indian cities dominating this list and still in denial, you need to crawl back under the rock where you came out of.

        • Blaj says:

          Yes and no? When the weather world calls upon India and China to produce textiles, plastics, and other cheap goods for import, it’s only natural that these two countries would become the most polluted. Globalism has done many good things, but it’s also created a disparity… Country leaders can’t just stop production because now many livelihoods depend on it – bringing in green tech on a large scale will cost a lot of money which means cost gets transferred to products being sold – which in turn causes uproar in the Western world at increases in prices and a drop for demand of these goods. That goes right back to the countries with people out of jobs. Until country leaders grow a pair and just admit that things will get a lot worse before getting better this system will never change…

          • The cats pajamas says:

            If the whole world just supplied our own food and goods locally this would not be a problem. I would rather NEVER own ANYTHING made in India or China or really anywhere than locally. I don’t care that our prices will go up because we will also take back all the jobs being sent to other countries…. So in the end it will equal out for us. The real solution is always buying local and stopping trade. I don’t about the rest of the world but here in America, we can make just about everything we need.

      • Anonymous Indian says:

        Well…Well…I’m an Indian and I’ll tell you my experience at a bus terminal (I’m concerned about the environment):

        (I’ve finished eating a packet of biscuits…Now, I needed to dispose the wrapper. Couldn’t see any dustbins near me, so asked a nearby civic volunteer)

        Me : Sir, can you please tell me where can I find a dustbin nearby?
        Volunteer : Well… I’m not sure, check out that side (Points his hand to the other side of a busy road.)

        I cross the road after 5 minutes of waiting. I throw it into a bin. A sweeper shows up, picks up the bin, and dumps it to a nearby dumpyard on the side of the main road.

        Me : (Facepalm)

        Worse, I again crossed the road to see my bus departing.
        (Facepalm again.)

        So there you are…For all praises that India is worth, it does deserve criticism on pollution awareness as well. What’s more, even foreign tourists start mimicking our actions…That shouldn’t happen. X|

  11. pineappleapple says:

    maldives’s capital male is very dirty because of powerful people

  12. Ariel Juego Littaua says:

    How about Manila? Our capital metropolitan is such a RUBBISH OR TRASH center of the world. Manila is dirty especially the people have not taking obligations to clean the rivers, sea, or other site. But fortunately the city is now improving because of awful policy the people suddenly obey.

    • scarecrow says:

      I thought the list was biased because i didn’t see any Manila.

  13. Kd says:

    Addis Ababa is beautiful city they are lying

  14. Med says:

    That’s why I hate live in the city

  15. devki says:

    okay..have you been to all the places u mentioned here? if yes than share at least correct photos …for example Raipur …that photo belongs to Ahmedabad … do your homework properly and yea have you been to Naples yet …please go and see the streets of Naples ..Mumbai and Ahmedabad are far better than Naples …what you can expect from a brit .. do not spread wrong information about any city unless and untill you have been there for months

  16. Jeff says:

    What about norilsk, Russia?

  17. radhu says:

    why on earth Baku Azerbaijan is the dirtiest city . It should be the cleanest and most beautiful

  18. mubashar says:

    They are lying all cities of Pakistan are clean and beautiful.

  19. Eddie says:

    Did u even read the article?!?!?! He is NOT basing this on garbage in the streets!!! lol. AIR POLLUTION PEOPLE, PLEASE READ before criticizing his work!!

  20. Shivam Mehta says:

    India is one of the polluted country. There are lots of cities which are over polluted.

  21. Dan says:

    San Fransisco is covered in poop for F’s Sake!

  22. junaid says:

    What about America ?

    • Dr Dave Wolfe says:

      Lol. There are plenty more sh*t hole countries to list before you can even mention the US.

      • Nancy says:

        That’s the truth. The problem is all these third world countries over breeding and using KEROSENE for god’s sake as a source of fuel for heat and cooking and just burning trash heaps……and what do we do? We feed the poor so they can reproduce more poor and keep using all the resources. We need to stop feeding them and give them contraceptives instead.

  23. joe says:

    u can start with the Afghans!

  24. Sandile says:

    I think Johannesburg is also among dirtiest city

  25. name says:

    this article is about air quality

  26. Np says:

    What about Afghanistan? They r clean?

  27. vasuki says:

    this list seemingly just base on air pollution… how about the cities with the most garbage on the streets?

  28. eyeofdia says:

    Baku is always the dirtiest city in the world, 3rd time in a row, hahaha

  29. John says:

    You’ve taken dirty city claims from different years. What your source, the WHO? Their list is totally different, so is CNN. You get paid to just write up and take facts from who knows where and apply your own prejudices to slam other countries? This is a BS site to even post “your” list. I’m in Toronto, that’s Canada, the big pretentious white preferred country north of the USA. Everyone here thinks it’s such a clean city but those idiots don’t go to the dirty parts of the city. Graffiti trash and litterbugs are everywhere but this list only takes air pollution into strongest consideration to human health. This is a waste of time, reading the article and replying to it.

    • John Treville says:

      Yet you took the time…..sounds like your some white guy who feels bad about being white and all the “bad” things white people stand for. Go get your wigger cornrows and preach black power while getting served by one of the thousands of Indian residents that now LITTER your country.

  30. Dr Dave Wolfe says:

    India is literally a sh*t hole.

  31. Amit Chaudhry says:

    Why not Kanpur, India? I can really feel pollution there.

  32. Doya says:

    I m so depressed after reading this article that Pakistan has 3 cities that are dirty air…jst praying nd hopefull than InshAllah in nxt few years we will be pure neat nd clean like europe

  33. scort says:

    am not seeing Nigeria here
    what’s happening?

  34. Muhammad nazim says:

    India most dirty country in the world

  35. Qiasar Hanif says:

    India on top

  36. Cleo says:

    Please note that air quality is different from “being dirty”. A place may look clean but because of pollution from various sources including old trucks, industries etc releasing carbon monoxide…that place will have very poor air quality. Air quality cannot be judged by the naked eye! The world needs to wake up to the realities of environmental degradation otherwise it might be too late to save the world abd ourselves!

  37. Agnenlina says:

    Please where is Nigeria I live there it is terrible.

  38. Raja mansukhani says:

    Let’s improve and not complain

  39. muneeb says:

    Its not about piles of garbage and left over trash from years ago hes talking about air pollution

  40. Blue says:

    India as expected. The filthiest country I’ve been to.

  41. Marilyn says:

    I thought Flint, Michigan was in.

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