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Most Polluted City in the World, World Air Quality Report 2023

Context: According to the World Air Quality Report 2023, New Delhi is ranked the world’s most polluted capital city for the fourth consecutive year since 2018, while India emerged as the third worst country in terms of air quality. In a recent report released by IQAir, an air quality monitoring body based in Switzerland, India has been declared the third-most polluted country in the world for the year 2023. This disheartening revelation underscores a persistent and escalating environmental crisis gripping the nation, with dire implications for public health and well-being.

Most Polluted City in the World

Begusarai, a city nestled in the northern part of the Indian state of Bihar, has garnered international attention for earning the dubious distinction of being the most polluted urban centre in the world. According to the ‘World Air Quality Report 2023’ released by IQAir, a Swiss air quality monitoring body, Begusarai surpassed all other cities globally in terms of PM2.5 concentration, marking a stark escalation in its air pollution woes.

With an average PM2.5 concentration of 118.9 micrograms per cubic meter, Begusarai stands as a glaring testament to the severity of India’s air quality crisis and the urgent need for comprehensive interventions to mitigate pollution levels.

As per the report conducted by Swiss organisation IQAir, 13 of the 15 most polluted cities in the world in 2023 were in India with Begusarai, Guwahati and Delhi being the top three. In 2023, only 10 out of the reporting 134 countries succeeded in achieving the WHO annual particulate matter PM2.5 standards of 5 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3).

India’s Ranking as Most Polluted Countries

  • In 2023: 3rd
  • In 2022: 8th
  • In 2021: 5th

Top Polluted Cities in the World

Rank City Country PM2.5 Concentration (µg/m³)
1 Begusarai India 118.9
2 Guwahati India 105.4
3 Delhi India 92.7

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World Air Quality Report 2023

The World Air Quality Report 2023, compiled by IQAir, highlights the global state of air pollution, revealing alarming trends and significant challenges. It identifies India as the third-most polluted country, with 42 of its cities ranking among the top 50 most polluted globally. Begusarai emerges as the most polluted city, symbolizing the severity of the crisis.

The World Air Quality Report 2023 underscores the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address air quality degradation, emphasizing the detrimental impact on public health and the environment. It serves as a clarion call for concerted action to mitigate pollution and safeguard the well-being of communities worldwide.

Top 10 Most Polluted Countries (Out of 134 Countries)

Country Average PM2.5 Concentration (µg/m³)
Bangladesh 79.9
Pakistan 73.7
India 54.4
Tajikistan 49.0
Burkina Faso 46.6
Iraq 43.8
United Arab Emirates 43.0
Nepal 42.4
Egypt 42.4

Key Findings of World Air Quality Report

  • India’s Pollution Crisis: India emerges as a focal point of concern, with the report ranking it as the third-most polluted country in the world for 2023. With an average annual PM2.5 concentration of 54.4 micrograms per cubic meter, India trails behind Bangladesh and Pakistan in terms of air pollution severity, underscoring the magnitude of the crisis.
  • City Rankings: The report’s list of the top 50 most polluted cities in the world is dominated by Indian urban centers, with a staggering 42 cities from India making the list. Begusarai, a city in Bihar, claims the dubious distinction of being the most polluted metropolitan area globally, followed by Guwahati and Delhi. This concentration of pollution hotspots underscores the urgent need for targeted interventions to address air quality challenges in Indian cities.
  • Global Trends: Beyond India, the report provides insights into global air quality trends, highlighting notable developments and challenges. While some countries have made strides in improving air quality, others continue to grapple with escalating pollution levels. The report identifies Bangladesh, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Burkina Faso as the top five most polluted countries, emphasizing the widespread nature of the problem.
  • Health Impacts: The pervasive presence of air pollution poses significant health risks to populations worldwide. Exposure to fine particulate matter, such as PM2.5, is linked to a range of adverse health outcomes, including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disorders, and even premature mortality. Vulnerable groups, including children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions, are particularly susceptible to the deleterious effects of polluted air.
  • Policy Implications: The findings of the World Air Quality Report underscore the urgent need for robust policy measures to address air pollution and safeguard public health. Strategies such as stringent emission standards, investment in clean energy infrastructure, promotion of sustainable transportation alternatives, and public awareness campaigns are essential components of a comprehensive response to the air quality crisis.
Exposure to PM2.5, one of the key pollutants, leads to and exacerbates numerous health conditions, including asthma, cancer, stroke and lung disease.

World Air Quality Report UPSC

The World Air Quality Report 2023 highlights India as the third most polluted country globally, with 42 out of the top 50 polluted cities. Begusarai leads as the most polluted, followed by Guwahati and Delhi. India’s PM2.5 concentration surged to 54.4 micrograms per cubic meter. Key findings include seven countries meeting WHO guidelines, Africa’s air quality data deficit, and China’s PM2.5 uptick. Urgent global action is imperative to mitigate the burgeoning air pollution crisis.

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Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

About the Author

Greetings! I'm Piyush, a content writer at StudyIQ. I specialize in creating enlightening content focused on UPSC and State PSC exams. Let's embark on a journey of discovery, where we unravel the intricacies of these exams and transform aspirations into triumphant achievements together!

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