25 Most Polluted Countries in the World

In this article, we will be taking a look at the 25 most polluted countries in the world. To skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to see 5 Most Polluted Countries in the World.

Pollution is one of the main problems being faced by the world right now, being detrimental to both food security and health. Every year, pollution results in the death of more than 3.7 million people in the world while resulting in the destruction of crops that could feed millions of people every year. This issue is even more pronounced when you consider that developing countries have much higher pollution than developed countries and developing countries already have food scarcity issues due to inequal distribution of resources and higher levels of poverty. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, estimates suggest that in India alone, ozone pollution results in the destruction of crops which could feed around 94 million people. The economic impact of pollution in India results in damages of over $2 billion.

There can be no denying that humans are responsible for the precarious state that the world is in right now. There are various contributors to pollution including industrialization, nitrogen-based fertilizers, pesticides, forest fires, urbanization and inadequate waste management. While many developed nations, primarily in the West, are currently working on steps to mitigate the impact on the environment, the real issues lie with developing countries. The Industrial Revolution occurred in the United States, continental Europe and Great Britain over the 18th to 19th century, when the effects of industrialization on the environment weren't understood that well. This Industrial Revolution resulted in the stratospheric growth of the economy of these regions of which benefits are still being reaped right now. Because of the Industrial Revolution, the standard of living in these countries improved manifold at a major cost to the environment.

Most Polluted countries in the world
Most Polluted countries in the world

On the contrary, developing nations are currently going through the industrialization phase, at a time when its impact on the environment is much better-known, leading to pressure on reducing such activities so that the damage to the environment can be as minimal as possible. However, it is a bit hypocritical to come from Western nations, who, as we've mentioned already, have been the drivers of climate change, and now that they maintain a high standard of living, are pressuring developing nations. Remember, the standard of living is quite low in such countries. The Western nations can afford to implement rules and regulations to restrict corporations from practices which contribute negatively to the environment while developing nations don't have the same kind of luxury, which is why many global companies are moving their operations (especially manufacturing) overseas to more welcoming nations.

There are many companies who have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions and go on to become carbon neutral. Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) was one of the first companies to focus on electric vehicles realizing the positive impact that would have on the environment. Now, Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) is the most valuable automotive company in the entire world. However, for electric vehicles to be considered a viable replacement for traditional automobile, it is important to have the infrastructure to support electric vehicles, which is where companies such as ChargePoint Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CHPT) enter the picture. Meanwhile, there are an increasing number of companies focusing on renewable energy as moving away from fossil fuels is integral to combat climate change impacts, which are already devastating many countries across the world. These companies include NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) and Brookfield Renewable Corporation (NYSE:BEPC).

It should come as no surprise that the most polluted countries in the world are developing nations. Turkey and Poland are the two most polluted countries in Europe but they still are not included in the 25 most polluted countries in the world. Our ranking is based on Air Quality Index according to IQAir as of October 31. Here's a breakdown of scores in terms of quality category:

Air Quality Index                Category 50-100                                Moderate 101-150                            Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 150-200                           Unhealthy 201-250                          Very Unhealthy 250+                                 Hazardous You will see some countries with an AQI value under 50 included in this list. That's because their average AQI based on 2020 and 2021 scores were bad and they are commonly listed among the most polluted countries in the world.

25.  Iran

Air quality index score: 70

The capital of Iran, Tehran, has seen really high levels of pollution mainly derived from vehicular emissions.

24. Saudi Arabia

Air quality index score: 94

One of the richest nations in the world has failed to do much to curb pollution where dust is a major reason behind the levels of pollution.

23. Bosnia Herzegovina

Air quality index score: 21

Based on 2022 figures, Bosnia Herzegovina has the fifth highest mortality rate from air pollution.

22. Kuwait

Air quality index score: 141

Kuwait's air pollution is mostly derived from the oil industry.

21. Armenia

Air quality index score: 169

While Armenia has started implementing pollution charges on the biggest offenders, the company's pollution problem continues to increase.

20. China

Air quality index score: 105

The second-most powerful country in the world has taken serious steps to curb emissions, including stringent regulations on carbon emissions by companies, which has resulted in its emissions decreasing year on year.

19. Montenegro

Air quality index score: 99

While air pollution is high in Montenegro, the country is taking steps to tackle the situation, including closing gaps in waste management and chemicals.

18. Nigeria

Air quality index score: 97

Nigeria has a major problem with pollution, where 78% of air pollution related pneumonia deaths are occurring in children less than five years old.

17. United Arab Emirates

Air quality index score: 106

The United Arab Emirates was mostly a desert till a few decades ago, after which rapid urbanization took place after the discovery of oil. The country is very car-centric which contribute to carbon emissions in addition to rapid industrialization as well.

16. Mongolia

Air quality index score: 160

The air quality index in Mongolia is more than 25 times that of WHO recommended levels, with rapid urbanization continuing to contribute to Poland.

15. Indonesia

Air quality index score: 30

Indonesia's air pollution stems from the large number of forest fires in the country.

14. Uzbekistan

Air quality index score: 118

Uzbekistan was quite low on the list in the past, but pollution in the country is increasing, turning what was once a green capital into a concrete jungle with high-rises and traffic jams.

13. Afghanistan

Air quality index score: 45

Afghanistan has been a war-torn country for a couple of decades now, with the lack of stability contributing to the growing issue of pollution in the country.

12. Qatar

Air quality index score: 107

One of the most controversial countries right now because it has become the host of the Football World Cup 2022, trying to curb pollution in the country seems to not currently be high on the list of priorities of the country.

11. Sudan

Air quality index score: 122

Sudan has struggled to curb pollution as various reasons have contributed towards the unfortunate position the nation finds itself in now, including deforestation, loss of biodiversity and land degradation.

10. Nepal

Air quality index score: 85

Nepal suffers from a lack of regulations regarding pollution by factories and carbon emissions, which has led to high levels of pollution within the country.

9. Iraq

Air quality index score: 136

One of the most polluted countries in the world, Iraq has suffered significantly due to war in the past, which has also majorly contributed to pollution in the country. with other factors being using generators for electricity as the electric infrastructure is lacking, fires from oil and gas refineries, and vehicle emissions.

8. Bahrain

Air quality index score: 57

Industrial emissions, private vehicle usage and sandstorms are the primary reasons behind Bahrain's high levels of air pollution.

7. Tajikistan

Air quality index score: 37

Tajikistan is currently in an era of reindustrialization which is resulting in higher levels of air pollution. The country is continuing to develop more coal-fired plants and factories which means in the next few years, Tajikistan may be higher on this list.

6. Kyrgyzstan

Air quality index score: 138

The level of pollution in Kyrgyzstan is continuing to increase, which is a concern especially since the country does not produce many statistics on the driving forces behind this increase.

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Disclosure: None. 25 most polluted countries in the world is originally published at Insider Monkey.