As many as 33 Polish cities are among the 50 most polluted cities in the EU, with Żywiec topping the list, according to the latest urban air quality database issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO was able to compare a total of 3,000 cities in 103 countries for levels of small and fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). PM10 and PM2.5 include pollutants such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon, which penetrate deep into the lungs and into the cardiovascular system, posing the greatest risks to human health.
Seven out of the ten most polluted cities in the EU are in Poland and these are Żywiec (1), Pszczyna (2), Rybnik (4), Wodzisław Śląski (5), Opoczno (6), Sucha Beskidzka (7) and Godów (8). The other three are in Bulgaria. The first city not located in one of those two countries is Italy’s Soresina, ranked 24th.
Overall, 98 percent of cities in low and middle-income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. In high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 56 percent.
The most polluted city in the world is Iran’s Zabol, followed by India’s Gwalior and Allahabad.