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Most polluted cities of 2018 (airvisual.com)
37 points by mikkei 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments

In a world where individualism and short term profit is valued above all.

What do you think happens when we buy asian gadgets on amazon with same day delivery, mindless pollution, from the first step to the last.

Go out, and look at the streets, hundreds of cars with (90% of the time) a single person in it. Moving 2 tons of steel for a 80 kilos meatbag, now that's efficiency. We could almost ignore that if it wasn't releasing toxic gases straight in the worst place possible: the exact place where most of us live.

What about importing bananas and mango from the other side of the globe ? How come I can buy Evian water in the US; are we really shipping water from Europe to America ?

Meat at every meal, well meat is good so why not, plus it's cheap now that we mass produce it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_meat_p...

And the list goes on forever, but who cares, convenience is king, as long as it's cheap.

Short term thinking? Yes. But individualism doesn't seem like the problem given China and India are more collectivist than most Western societies.

I think the commenter means that doing what's easiest or best for you at the expense of society (now or in the future). And it doesn't have to just be for yourself, it can be for your family or tribe over others, and it still has the same effect.

The problem is externalities. Not convenience.

I find this statement confusing. Is it not generally true that optimizing for maximum convenience (coupled with lowest monetary cost) often corresponds with an increase in negative externalities?

If you buy your mango frozen, it's quite likely that the majority of the transportation CO2 is the trip from the grocery store to your home. From the plantation to the grocery store it's being transported in large quantity by highly efficient trains, boats and semi-trailers.

Yeah we can continue to lie (to ourselves ?) and perpetuate these ideas. Or we can look at the facts:

- https://inews.co.uk/news/long-reads/cargo-container-shipping...

- https://medium.com/@victoria27/heres-how-much-pollution-ship...

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_shippi...

And then you witness that half of the bananas delivered to your office every week ends up in the trash because they're too ripe, but yeah, the ship that moved them from latin america to europe was efficient, no biggie.

Just like half of the cheap, low quality things imported from asia that breaks after a few weeks (basically 70% of amazon inventory)

And the irony is that the people who have kids tend to be the ones who care the least about these things (whether because for them it's much harder to do anything about it or because they are ignorant). Talk about loving kids.

I think we barely have time to think about it in the first place, when you're in the sleep, work, entertainment routine, you're much more inclined to watch some netflix than to do something about "important" issues. Add kids in the mix and you're done. You either have to work extra time to be able to get them a decent life or stop working to take care of them, either way the future of humanity isn't really a priority.

You can take personal steps to reduce your footprint sure, but as long as the leaders play their "economical growth at all cost" game we're doomed to fail.

The people who have kids are also the ones causing the most harm to the environment. The single most effective way to diminish your impact on the environment is to not reproduce.

It's also the most selfish way, in some regard. My wife and I just recently had our first after some time, and one of the biggest factors involved was how selfish it would be not to. A lot of parents feel the same way; you need to appreciate that it's not in black and white and there are multiple perspectives.

The future for them is very bleak. The pros/cons of facing it is a hard decision to make. Personally, I'd hate to make that decision for someone else, let alone a person I would end up caring about the most.

I would say that it depends in many factors. It could be that a single wealthy person in a city in USA consumes and produces waste as a family of 10 in a rural area in Africa. Thus seems that there are plenty of other ways to diminish your impact.

Thanks for hijacking my back button

I found that quite irritating too. At first I thought I was doing something wrong or the browser was not behaving well. Then I realized it's the website that's hostile.

How widely known is it that Indian cities are so polluted? I feel like I only hear about pollution in Chinese cities. I feel like the fact that this is dominated by Indian cities would come as a surprise to many.

Media bias, that's all. One country is shaping up to be a formidable foe so certain groups are desperately trying to highlight, amplify, and exaggerate everything for a chance to shit on them. The other country is a quasi-ally not even remotely close to posing a challenge so barely any attention is given.

Probably not the only cause, but look at population density in India, it's insane.


I think India's issue can be attributed to whether large pollutants are closer or within larger cities [citation needed] and the fact that biomass is usually burnt by its population in large scale.

I don't think it's a surprise.

I always heard that surprisingly they could top China on some days - apparently poor farming practices involving mass burns could make it seasonally extra bad.

Given their reputation of being farming, IT/call centers, and chemical/plastic factories as opposed to heavy industrial China - granted both are more nuanced than the stereotypes because they are nations of over a billion and a third each. If you ask about them having a non-fictional industry the answer is probably yes.

Between slumdog millionaire and all the episodes of the amazing race that have taken place in India, it's no surprise to me.

I don't see why anyone would expect any extremely poor, heavily populated, industrializing area to not be very polluted.

It was surprising to me. However, only the first page is dominated by India. Most of the cities in the next 3-4 pages are in China.

If you look at cities yea but on a country level, India fall third behind Bangladesh and Pakistan. China is at the 12th place and all the countries in between are somewhat surprising

Anyone knows what the major source of pollution in Indian cities is? My guess would be automobile but I'd like it to be confirmed or denied.

My guess is manufacturing plants and burning of farm fields.

Reason is i am not seeing other big cities like shanghai/Bombay etc. which would have comparable number of automobiles but smaller cities which are known to have big factories.

In many cities, cars contribute relatively less pollution compared to factories and power plants, but because it’s localised along city streets where people live and work, it can be just as dangerous.

There are multiple sources:

Automobiles (including highly polluting two-stroke rickshaws and motorbikes), coal-fired power plants, industrial emissions, domestic cooking fires, and agricultural burn-offs.

I am also wondering does source of pollution is always local ?

Not always, wind has a huge impact

I was really surprised to see that in my neck of the woods Chicago proper had better air quality than some of the nearby suburbs (that aren't industrial exurbs) such as Naperville: https://www.airvisual.com/world-most-polluted-cities?contine...

Lake effect?

I happened to be in San Francisco during the Camp fire late last year. Even far from the fire itself, the air outside was terrible, and for a week or two I felt miserable and trapped. Not being able to breathe properly, or open a window, or go anywhere for days on end wasn't fun.

Most of the cities in that list are just as bad as that, all year round. I can't even begin to imagine what it feels like to live like that permanently, or what it does to your health :(

All of the US cities in the North America top 50 are rural CA cities. I have to assume that their over all badness last year was due to the fires.

I think it’s actually the agricultural centers. When I visited NAPA valley when I was younger you could see the smog blanketing the area. Not sure what exactly smogs up the air so foully there from the agricultural production but it seems to be a large contributor.

Their monitoring in CA appears to be a lot denser than in (say) the midwestern US. In general, agriculture creates a lot of dust. You can certainly see some hot spots in their CA data due to fires, e.g. the PM2.5 of 200+ in Paradise, CA.

If you look at the list of cities, they are mostly in countries that are undergoing massive industrialization. If you look at the equivalent stage in the West about a hundred years ago, you would see the New York, Chicago, London, Pittsburg also with massive pollution. As countries became more industrialized and wealthy, they switch from caring about growth above all else, to caring more for quality of life and reducing pollution is a big part of that. That period occurred for the US in the 60’s and 70’s. You can see that dynamic already taking hold for example in Beijing where the Chinese government is trying to reduce its pollution problem by regulating cars and pushing electric vehicles.

Mexico City is in rank 704, I didn't expect that. I don't know if Mexico City is doing better or if the other 700 cities are nightmares. Well at least the pollution average in the city went down from 2017 to 2018.

Mexico City makes my nostrils burn much like the airport region of Guadalajara which sends air quality meters deep into the red zone. On any straight street in Mexico City, the street will quickly terminate into a grey haze.

Can only imagine how bad the 703 worse-ranked cities are to live in.

I was also surprised by that. Mexico City has always been a tough place to keep air pollution in check while still having one of the largest population density in North America. This is especially the case since it is in a valley where pollution gets trapped in.

The ranking is just based on PM2.5 which is just one category of pollution. Could it be that the pollution there is of another type?

Could it be because it has such a high elevation of 7,382 feet?

Surprised by the numbers for Mexico City (19.7, 704th). I live there and the air is disgusting. I can't imagine how bad it must be in all those Chinese/Indian cities above 100.

To give some perspective, Paradise California (which burned to the ground on Nov. 8 2018) had a PM2.5 measurement that month fairly similar to that of the world's most polluted cities. That seems so grim to me.

I feel so fortunate seeing this list. The area I live in is almost entirely blue despite being subjected to bursts of wildfire smoke in summer.

Website breaks Firefox mobile 15.0 on iOS 12

Why not measure surface area polluted and how much of that is in a country, rather than very long lists of individual cities?

E.g., China - 100km2, India 500km2 (making up numbers), rather than list 300 cities from each country as nearly equal pollution?

It seems to be more useful in the current format if you are trying to decide where (not) to live

Why pick one city which is clean but maybe 50km from another which is heavily polluted? I'd rather know pollution like a weather radar shows clouds or cold fronts... Then I can just eliminate entire regions for where to live.

Like this visualisation you mean ? https://www.airvisual.com/earth You can see the whole world with particulate matters clouds and how they are affected by the wind.

It seems like the data is available if you want to give it a go

I was fascinated to see how low New York was. Given the immense amount of car traffic, anyone have an idea as to why its so low?

Because we've worked on improving it for a hundred years. A mixture of regulations and regulation-driven technology improvements.

Motor vehicle exhaust is tiny compared to the pollution from coal-burning. Eliminating coal has drastically improved the air quality in industrialised cities of Europe and North America.

Prevailing winds bring relatively clean air to most any city east of the Mississippi River especially in the winter time. Without nearby mountains, temperature inversions are pretty rare.

In late summer, air quality drops quite a bit as the wind drops off.

geography plus the cars run gas instead of diesel

Anyone know why is pollution is worst in winter? heating?

We were in India in the winter, and the smell everywhere was like smoke from burning.

It's because colder air is more dense, making it more heavy and stay closer to the ground.

Think there is a different explanation depending on the country. In China, for instance, production is usually ramped up in the months leading up to Lunar New Year which occurs in Jan/Feb.

I always had the question is the source of pollution at least the air quality is local or can it travel across globe ?

Both can happen but pollution is diffused as it travels and spreads. There were incidents when Chinese smog was bad enough to make it to California and cause air quality issues but weather can do that in general if winds trap pollution instead of dispersing.

Why is it that the top 100 are all chain in India? And in that case why is it that the Paris climate accord delayed China and India is accountability while charging American Germany the highest reparations immediately? The politics behind climate change is it simply a method of controlling our economy and taxing us

This is a ranking of PM2.5 pollution, which is nothing to do with climate change.

This website breaks my back button. Yet another website built with JavaScript that doesn’t need JavaScript at all...

Changing the ranking to the world's most polluted countries really puts into perspective the ecological destruction wrought by the trend of western consumerist fetishism (this isn't to say that the destruction of natural systems is entirely the fault of western citizens, of course).

The top 25 (at least) most polluted countries are all firmly outside what would be considered the western world; it's obvious that the environmental byproducts of materialism and consumerism are simply outsourced to where westerners cannot readily see them. The necessary course of action for an informed and future-minded person seems blindingly obvious - allocate resources only to those corporations and systems that reject the trend of object fetishism and environmental (and social) exploitation.

The classic rebuttal to this stance (i.e., that all corporations naturally engage in this type of exploitative behavior / the standard of living of the exploited region's citizens is being raised as a byproduct of said exploitation / etc.) is ringing more and more hollow. The fact of the matter is that you don't need a new smartphone / TV / whatever nearly as often as we are conditioned to believe.

There is a strange (borderline schizophrenic) attitude that I notice among defenders of entrenched corporate systems (meaning production and consumption symbioses) wherein the defender of the system simultaneously resigns themselves to powerlessness in the face of what they claim are the inevitable (and often negative) byproducts of technological and economic growth and at the same time admit (directly or indirectly) that they willingly add to the conflagration under nothing but the threat of relatively minor social inconvenience (see: Facebook membership, ordering junk from Amazon, using Google services, etc.). It's tiring and bewildering to witness.

The most polluted place I have been to on the list is Jakarta I think. The air is horrible but it doesn't seem to be anything to do with western consumerism. More the density of the population and road traffic, and the amount of trash that is burnt in and around the city.

Go back 100 years and the world’s most polluted countries would still be the ones rapidly industrializing at the time.

Your comment seems woefully ignorant of history, which is okay, but the world hasn’t _just_ existed for the last four decades.

Although I'm detecting a significant amount of hostility and condescension in your response, I'm going to ask you to elaborate on your position a bit more since I don't really understand what it is that you're trying to say. What do historical cycles of industrialization have to do with the observation that modern, information-rich consumers appear to have a growing moral imperative to prioritize human rights and positive environmental management when deciding how to allocate their discretionary resources (time / money)?

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