Beijing’s pollution levels have risen to severe levels, prompting China to issue its first ever “red alert” for smog in the city.
USA TODAY

As Beijing again makes worldwide news for its hideously smog-choked skies, a look at a list of some of the planet’s most polluted cities finds that the Chinese capital isn’t even in the top 20 for smog.

While certainly wretched by American standards, Beijing’s average air pollution level is 53, on a scale from 26 to 208. (The numbers reflect  the amount of the smog-causing microscopic particles in the air.)

Many of the world’s most polluted cities are in India, with Dehli “leading” the pack with a level of 153. The report, which was prepared in 2014 by the World Health Organization, looked at outdoor air pollution in nearly 1,600 cities in 91 countries.

By way of comparison, Los Angeles was at 20 and New York City at 14. The problem in Beijing is that while its  overall average may not be catastrophic, when  the smog gets bad it can be really dreadful, as evidenced by the current air quality reading of 200.

The great majority of cities worldwide exceed WHO’s air quality guidelines.

Globally, relatively few of the monitored cities currently meet the WHO guideline values, the WHO said. These tend to be clustered in high-income countries. Air quality is poorest in the eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asian regions, followed by Latin America and Africa.

Only 12% of the people living in cities reporting on air quality live in cities that meet  with WHO guideline levels, the report said.

A list of the world cities with highest pollution levels:

Rank, city, country, pollution level

1 Delhi, India 153

2 Patna, India 149

3 Gwalior, India 144

4 Raipur, India 134

5 Karachi, Pakistan 117

6 Peshawar, Pakistan 111

7 Rawalpindi, Pakistan 107

8 Khormabad, Iran 102

9 Ahmedabad, India 100

10 Lucknow, India 96

11 Firozabad, India 96

12 Doha, Qatar 93

13 Kanpur, India 93

14 Amritsar, India 92

15 Ludhiana, India 91

16 Idgir, Turkey 90

17 Narayonganj, Bangladesh 89

18 Allahbad, India 88

19 Agra, India 88

20 Khanna, India 88

Source: World Health Organization

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