Day after day, the air we breath becomes more and more polluted by industrial, household, traffic, and other kinds of emissions. Huge factories and plants, billions of cars and public transport units, technogenic catastrophes, household aerosols, and other factors cause massive air pollution, decreasing the quality of life in many countries, and negatively affects the health of their citizens. Although, during the recent several decades, there were numerous attempts to reduce or at least control the rates of air pollution, it still remains one of the primary problems humanity needs to deal with—otherwise it may ruin everything. There are some places in the world that already appear like a human-caused apocalypse aftermath: cities whose ecology in terms of air pollution is so poor that it seems impossible to live there.
According to CNN, the most air-polluted city on Earth currently is New Delhi. On Sunday, November 5th, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had to proclaim an emergency situation due to high levels of smog. This particular smog was caused by crop field fires in neighboring states, but even apart from this, New Delhi is a city where breathing its air is rather difficult. Due to a number of factors, such as an exponentially growing population (New Delhi has reached 25 million people), industrialization, and urbanization involving coal-fired power plants, and intense traffic with many cars fueled with diesel, it is easy to understand why New Delhi is recognized as the city with the worst air in the world. Besides, wind patterns typical for its winter period exclude proper air circulation, which contributes to making the situation worse. And now, adding to these problems, the recent fires have caused 5,000 schools to cancel classes for three days; the city’s biggest power plant working on coal had to be shut down for 10 days; all the construction operations in the city had to be stopped for several days as well. If the situation does not get better in the next couple of days, city authorities may have to impose vehicle restrictions. If the situation does not improve, Kejriwal might impose odd-even vehicle restrictions that would only permit driving every other day. As the Chief Minister have put it, “Pollution has increased to an extent that (the) outdoors in Delhi are resembling a gas chamber” (EcoWatch).
The Iranian city of Zabol is another example of a city with incredibly bad air. Located close to the border with Afghanistan, Zabol is rated by the World Health Organization to be the most polluted city in the world. The concentration of harmful particles in Zabol’s air reaches 217 micrograms per cubic meter of air, whereas the limit considered to be safe is only about 60 micrograms. Droughts, climate change, and the loss of wetlands of Hamoun that used to surround the city in the 2000s have caused the situation to become even worse; in particular, the wetlands protected the city from the phenomenon known as “120 days of wind,” when hot and dusty winds would completely abrupt activities of Zabol’s citizens during summers. Nowadays, these dusty winds pollute the city’s air even more; besides, the loss of Hamoun wetlands has caused a dramatic increase in the amount of respiratory infections among citizens: tuberculosis, for instance, have become one of the most drastic and common problems of Zabol (WorldAtlas).
Or, meet Linfen, which used to be the most air-polluted city in the world several years ago. Located in China, Linfen suffers from severe automotive and industrial emissions. In particular, Linfen has a huge number of coal mines located within and nearby it, and the coal industry is definitely not even close to being ecology-friendly. Even though legally-established mines follow regulations regarding air pollution, there are many illegal coal mines as well, which completely ignore not only labor safety precautions, but also recommendations and restrictions regarding harmful emissions. As a result, the air in Linfen is the most toxic air in the world. Besides, it is China, which means lots of people are living in Linfen; it is easy to assume that the number of automobiles and other vehicles operating within the city is huge, and so are the polluting emissions from them (SCGH).
There are many other cities in the world suffering from bad air, and most of them are located in Asia. This is easy to explain: Asia is industrious, rapidly developing, and is inhabited by an incredible amount of people; at the same time, not all Asian countries have adopted environmentally-friendly laws, or enabled the mechanisms of control over harmful emissions. For the same reason, one can find extremely air-polluted cities in Africa as well. However, as it can be seen, such cities as New Delhi, Zabol, or Linfen suffer the most, perhaps. The reasons are more or less common: enormous populations, intense automotive traffic, growing industries, environmental factors, and disasters. In particular, in Zabol, the situation has worsened with the disappearing of wetlands that had been protecting the city from dusty desert winds; in New Delhi, the current situation is on the brink of catastrophe because of crop fires in neighboring states. Linfen’s problems come mostly from a number of illegal coal mines surrounding the city that do not observe restrictions and rules regarding harmful emissions. The situation in these and other cities with similar circumstances must be constantly monitored, and a number of steps must be taken to improve the quality of air and decrease pollution.
- “World’s Most Polluted City, Air Quality Levels Literally Off the Charts.” EcoWatch. N.p., 08 Nov. 2016. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
- “The Most Polluted Cities in the World.” WorldAtlas. N.p., 27 May 2016. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
- “The Cleanest and the Most Polluted Cities in the World.” SCGH. N.p., 07 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
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