ANKARA: Indian cities rank among the world's most polluted, with a total of 21 listed in the world's top 30 polluted regions in 2019, according to an air quality watchdog on Tuesday.
"Of the world's top 30 most polluted cities during 2019, 21 are located in India, 27 in South Asia, and all the top 30 cities are within greater Asia," according to World Air Quality Report, released by Swiss-based IQ AirVisual.
Citing reports that 90% of the global population breathes air exceeding World Health Organisation (WHO) exposure targets, the report indicated that air pollution is estimated to contribute to seven million premature deaths annually.
"Regionally, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Western Asia carry the highest burden of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution overall," the report indicated, adding that only six of the 355 cities in the region meet WHO targets.
Overall, Ghaziabad, India; Hotan, China; Gujranwala and Faisalabad in Pakistan and Delhi, India were listed in order as the world's five most air-polluted cities in 2019.
Bangladesh was the most polluted country per person, followed by Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan and India.
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Bosnia and Herzegovina was listed as the highest-ranking country in Europe and was the 14th most polluted country globally.
The report indicated that climate change and air pollution are linked and that "urgent action" was needed to fight greenhouse gas emissions.
"2019 air quality data shows clear indications that climate change can directly increase the risk of exposure to air pollution, through increased frequency and intensity of forest fires and sandstorms," it said.
In less developed countries, 98% of children under five breathe toxic air, as a result, air pollution is the main cause of death for children under the age of 15, killing 600,000 every year, according to the WHO's report in 2018.
According to the World Bank, premature deaths due to air pollution cost about $5 trillion worldwide.