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Two Indian cities among most polluted in the world

Last updated on: April 17, 2012 09:06 IST

Two Indian cities among most polluted in the world

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Two Indian cities have been ranked as the most polluted cities in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

It says 1.34 million people died in 2008 from breathing in tiny particles present in polluted outdoor air. This is up from 1.15 million deaths in 2004. Let us have a look at world's 10 most polluted cities, including two from India, according to the WHO.

These cities have at least 10 times the amount of air particles recommended by the WHO - 20 µg/m3.

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Image: Smoke rises from chimney of a garbage processing plant on the outskirts of Chandigarh.
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters

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Ludhiana, India

World ranking: Four

Annual mean PM10 (ug/m3): 251

Population: 3,487,882

Ludhiana is a highly industrial city with manufacturing plants that produce everything from textiles to auto parts. Unfortunately, this industry, paired with vehicular pollution, has made Ludhiana one of the most polluted cities in the world.

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Image: A man looks at poly-bags on display outside a factory at Ludhiana.
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters
Tags: Ludhiana , PM10 , World , India

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Two Indian cities among most polluted in the world

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It currently has the fourth most polluted air in the world. There are about 200 premature deaths each year in the city due to air pollution.

Additionally, incidence of asthma is on the rise.

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Image: A dog participates in a dog race on the outskirts of Ludhiana.
Photographs: Munish Sharma/Reuters
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Two Indian cities among most polluted in the world

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Kanpur, India

World ranking: 10

Annual mean PM10 (ug/m3): 209

Population: 4,572,951

Kanpur is one of the largest cities in India and one of the most polluted in the world. Worst still, the levels of air pollution in the city, which is the 10th most polluted city in the world, are on the rise.

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Image: Labourer works inside a steel factory in Kanpur.
Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters
Tags: PM10 , India , World , Kanpur

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Two Indian cities among most polluted in the world

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According to the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest, while vehicles, road dust and domestic cooking contribute to the city's high pollution level, it is the industrial sector that is the main cause.

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Image: Employees work inside an iron factory in Kanpur.
Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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Two Indian cities among most polluted in the world

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1. Ahwaz, Iran

Annual mean PM10 (ug/m3): 372

Population: 1,338,126

Ahwaz, Iran, has the worst air pollution in the world, according to the WHO. Ahwaz's particle pollution is more than 18 times the recommended WHO levels.

In 2009, a large steel manufacturing plant opened close to the city.

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Image: Smoke is released into the sky at an oil refinery.
Photographs: Bret Hart/Reuters
Tags: Ahwaz , WHO , Iran , PM10

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Two Indian cities among most polluted in the world

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One study, published in MIT's technology review, blamed the "unusual development and growth of the city, heavy industrial growth, oil exploration, heavy traffic" for Ahwaz's pollution problems.

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Image: Steam and other emissions rise from a power station.
Photographs: Marko Djurica/Reuters
Tags: MIT , Ahwaz

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2. Ulan Bator, Mongolia

Annual mean PM10 (ug/m3): 279

Population: 2,754,685

According to the WHO, "Emissions from motor vehicles, industries, and power stations as well as road dust and household garbage burning are increasing" in Mongolia.

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Image: Woman walks past make-shift homes located near chimney stacks from power station on outskirts of Ulan Bator, Mangolia.
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters

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These factors, all of which cause pollution, are worst in Ulan Bator. The city has seen a spike in birth defects and unhealthy newborns over the past few years.

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Image: A herder rides a horse as he tends his animals on grasslands located around 200km south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator.
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters
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3. Sanandaj, Iran

Annual mean PM10 (ug/m3): 254

Population: 311,446

Sanandaj is located in northwestern Iran, several hundred kilometres west of capital Tehran. The region recently suffered from crippling dust storms.

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Image: A general view of Sanandaj.
Photographs: Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters
Tags: Iran , PM10 , Sanandaj , Tehran

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Two Indian cities among most polluted in the world

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In June, 2011, the particle pollution was so severe that flights were cancelled. The city's reported annual large particle concentration is more than 12 times the WHO's recommended upper limit.

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Image: A woman walks in Sanandaj.
Photographs: Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters
Tags: WHO

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Two Indian cities among most polluted in the world

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4. Quetta, Pakistan

Annual mean PM10 (ug/m3): 251

Population: 896,090

Quetta's air is extremely polluted due to recent increases in construction activities and smoke emission from motor vehicles and industrial units.

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Image: A boy flies a kite in Quetta, Pakistan.
Photographs: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Tags: Quetta , PM10 , Pakistan

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Iron mills that use lead, municipal wastes and the use of insecticides are also contributing factors. The death rate as a result of automobile pollution has increased greatly over the past few years.

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Image: Camels rest near Quetta.
Photographs: Zahid Hussein/Reuters
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5. Kermanshah, Iran

Annual mean PM10 (ug/m3): 229

Population: 822,921

The industrialisation of western Iran has had significant environmental impact on the city of Kermanshah.

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Image: A labourer works near cooling towers of a power plant.
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters
Tags: Kermanshah , Iran , PM10

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Even worse is the city's dust problem. The dust has caused a number of people to be taken to hospitals for respiratory and heart problems.

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Image: A coal-burning power plant can be seen behind a factory.
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters
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6. Peshawar, Pakistan

Annual mean PM10 (ug/m3): 219

Population: 3,625,000

Peshawar is another city that suffers greatly from its vehicle use. Few, if any, of the vehicles in the city have catalytic converters, which transform toxic exhaust emissions into nontoxic emissions.

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Image: A man holds a clay plate to put under wet pots, used for plants, at his make-shift factory in Peshawar.
Photographs: K Parvez/Reuters

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Burning of municipal solid wastes is also a contributing factor, as are smoke emissions from brick kilns, of which Peshawar has about 350.

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Image: A boy weaves carpets at a workshop in the outskirts of Peshawar.
Photographs: Fayaz Aziz/Reuters
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7. Gaborone, Botswana

Annual mean PM10 (ug/m3): 216

Population: 191,776

Gaborone's low air quality stems from the growing use of vehicles, which are often poorly maintained, used cars that produce an exceptional amount of emissions.

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Image: A fruit seller sits near Gaborone, Botswana.
Photographs: Ed Cropley/Reuters

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Air pollution is also caused by landfills where garbage is burned and by people who burn wood and even animal waste for cooking and heating.

Air pollution is therefore worst in winter because of side effects of heating.

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Image: Taxi drivers wait for customers near Gaborone, Botswana.
Photographs: Ed Cropley/Reuters
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8. Yasuj, Iran

Annual mean PM10 (ug/m3): 215

Population: 96,786

Yasuj's air pollution results largely from the country's manufacturing plants. These include a sugar processing plant and a coal-burning plant. These types of factories can release significant amounts of emissions into the air.

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Image: Water vapour rises from the cooling towers.
Photographs: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
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The city has plans to open a refinery by 2014 that will produce gasoline, kerosene, gas oil, furnace oil, liquefied gas, asphalt and sulfur. This likely will make the pollution problem worse.


Image: Smoke billows from a power plant.
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters
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