14 of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are Indian

  • Air pollution causes one in every nine deaths.
  • Kanpur reported the highest PM10 concentration in India.
  • Mumbai joined the list of the most polluted cities ranking at number four.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that air pollution causes one in every nine deaths and 37% of all lung cancer-related deaths (1.7 million every year) worldwide. And with India being the second largest populated country in the world, this statistic is bound to have quite a harsh impact on the nation. Additionally, according to the report, most Indian cities are polluted to levels that are unsafe for human survival.

The pollution is measured in units of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) in the air and the annual safe limit for PM2.5 is 40 μg/m3 and that of PM10 is 60 μg/m3.

The city-wise report is as follows:



Kanpur was reported highest on PM2.5 count scoring 173 μg/m3 and PM10 was 319 μg/m3. This rose from 108 μg/m3 and 199 μg/m3 respectively in 2015.


With an established population of 19 million, Delhi has a PM10 concentration of 292 μg/m3 and PM2.5 at 143 μg/m3 which is almost double the annual safe limit mentioned above. The concentration rose from 215 μg/m3 (PM10) and 116 μg/m3 (PM2.5) in 2014.



Mumbai joined the list of the most polluted cities ranking at number four, according to data compiled by WHO for megacities. The PM10 concentration was reported 104 μg/m3 and PM2.5 was 64 μg/m3. The concentration rose from 105 μg/m3 (PM10) and 66 μg/m3 (PM2.5) in 2015.


PM10 and PM2.5 were reported 80 μg/m3 and 52 μg/m3 respectively. Chennai reduced its PM2.5 concentration from 54 μg/m3 but the PM10 concentration rose from 70 μg/m3 in 2015.



Pollution soared in Kolkata in just one year. This report stated that the PM10 and PM2.5 were 136 μg/m3 and 74 μg/m3 which alarmingly increased by 41 μg/m3 and 22 μg/m3 since 2015.


The government’s attempts to reduce pollution in Agra have been futile. According to the latest numbers, Agra’s PM10 and PM2.5 were 195 μg/m3 and 131 μg/m3 respectively. This has increased by 7 μg/m3 and 29 μg/m3 respectively. This can be correlated to the worrying reports that Taj Mahal is turning brownish green.

Faridabad, Varanasi, Gaya, Patna, Lucknow, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala, Jodhpur are also among the top polluted cities, bringing India’s tally to 14 out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. The PM10 and PM2.5 levels in all of these cities are double of the annual safe limit.

The complete report by WHO can be viewed here.