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5 Most Polluted Countries in the World in 2024

Pollution is a growing global crisis, affecting millions of people and the environment. In some countries, the situation is particularly catastrophic, with pollution levels reaching hazardous levels that pose serious health risks. Read this article to explore the top 5 polluted countries worldwide. Find out the primary sources of pollution, effects on human lives, and initiatives taken by these countries.
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List of 5 Most Polluted Countries Worldwide 

  • Bangladesh
  • Pakistan
  • India
  • Tajikistan 
  • Burkina Faso

1- Bangladesh

Bangladesh is the most polluted country in the world as it is facing a significant environmental challenge in the form of pollution. The country’s alarming pollution levels pose a substantial threat to the health and well-being of its citizens.

Bangladesh’s pollution is primarily driven by anthropogenic (human-caused) activities, including household emissions from cooking with solid fuels, industrial effluents, and agricultural runoff. The widespread use of solid fuels for cooking, particularly in rural areas is also contributing to indoor air pollution. This practice not only affects the health of those who cook but also poses a risk to the overall air quality in the country. 

Industrial activities, such as the discharge of untreated effluents into waterways, further worsen the pollution problem. Agricultural practices such as the use of pesticides and fertilizers, also contribute to the pollution of soil, water, and air.

The health impacts of pollution in Bangladesh are severe and far-reaching. The World Bank report highlights that every year, about 272,000 preventable deaths and 5.2 billion days of disease are attributed to air pollution, polluted water, inappropriate sanitation and hygiene, and lead exposure. 

Household and outdoor air pollution have the most detrimental effect on health, leading to nearly 55 percent of premature deaths. The report also states that youngsters who are exposed to lead poisoning suffer an annual loss of around 20 million IQ points. 

The environmental impacts of pollution in Bangladesh are equally concerning. The country’s waterways are severely polluted due to industrial discharge and unmanaged waste, including plastics and untreated sewage. 

This pollution not only affects the health of those who consume polluted water but also has long-term consequences for the country’s biodiversity and ecosystem. The pollution of soil and air further risks the country’s agricultural productivity and overall economic development.

The Bangladeshi government has taken steps to address the pollution crisis. The Department of Environment has implemented initiatives to reduce air pollution, including the promotion of cleaner fuels and the enforcement of stricter emissions standards. 

The government has also launched programs to improve waste management and increase the use of renewable energy sources. Furthermore, the draft Clean Air Act of 2019 aims to provide a comprehensive framework for addressing air pollution in the country.

Despite these initiatives, Bangladesh still faces significant challenges in addressing its pollution crisis. The lack of effective enforcement mechanisms and inadequate infrastructure hinder the implementation of pollution-reducing measures. The country’s rapid economic growth and population boom put additional pressure on its environmental resources.

Read More: Most Polluted Cities in the UK

2- Pakistan

Pakistan, a country located in the heart of South Asia, is the second most polluted country worldwide. The country’s rapid industrialization, urbanization, and population growth have led to a significant increase in pollution levels.

Pakistan’s pollution problem is complex. The country’s industrial sector is a significant contributor to air pollution. The country’s cement, steel, and textile industries release a range of pollutants, including particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds, into the atmosphere.

On the other hand, the increasing number of vehicles on Pakistan’s roads, many of which are outdated and poorly maintained, contribute substantially to air pollution. Vehicular emissions are a major source of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons.

Agricultural practices such as the burning of crop residues and the burning of biomass and low-quality fuels for cooking and heating also contribute to air pollution in Pakistan. 

The health impacts of pollution in Pakistan are devastating. Exposure to poor air quality has been linked to a range of health problems, including respiratory issues, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. According to the statistics of 2024, almost 128,000 people die annually due to air pollution. 

The country’s water pollution also poses significant health risks, with contaminated water supplies contributing to the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid. The country’s air and water pollution not only harms human health but also damages the environment and the natural beauty of the country.

The Pakistani government has taken several initiatives to address the issue of pollution. Some of these initiatives include the National Clean Air Policy (2023). This policy aims to promote clean cooking fuel and technologies, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas where traditional biomass fuels are prevalent.

The Ministry of the Environment is developing the National Clean Air Plan, which sets targets for air pollution concentration, identifies actions to mitigate air pollution, and outlines a plan for coordinating action on air quality management.

Interestingly, Pakistan is a signatory to the Global Methane Pledge and committed to reducing global methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030.

Apart from these initiatives, Pakistan still faces challenges in addressing its pollution problem. The lack of effective enforcement of pollution regulations is a major challenge in Pakistan. Many industries and individuals continue to flout pollution laws.

Pakistan’s limited resources, including financial and human resources, and rapid population growth make it difficult for the government to address the issue of pollution effectively.

3- India

India is commonly known for its rich cultural heritage and rapid economic growth but unfortunately, it is also famous for its severe air pollution crisis. In 2024, India is ranked among the countries with the worst air quality. Millions of people are dying every year due to a polluted environment. 

The primary sources of pollution in India are diverse and widespread. Vehicular emissions, industrial waste, smoke from cooking, the construction sector, crop burning, and power generation are among the biggest contributors to the country’s air pollution misery.

Due to its reliance on gas, oil, and coal for electricity, India ranks as the fifth-biggest polluter in the world, releasing more than 2.65 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.

The health impacts of air pollution in India are staggering. Persistent air pollution has been linked to long-term health issues, including heart and lung disease, and is responsible for approximately 7 million premature deaths each year. 

India’s air pollution crisis is not only a domestic issue but also contributes significantly to global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that the climate crisis is accelerating at an unprecedented pace.

Despite the severity of the situation, the Indian government has taken some initiatives to address the issue. The government announced a ban on the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of single-use plastics. 

The State Government of Delhi has implemented measures such as the Odd-Even Regulation, a traffic rationing measure, and a ban on the use of coal as fuel in industrial and domestic units in the National Capital Region (NCR). However, these efforts are often blocked by the sheer scale of the problem.

A recent study from Stanford University identified approximately 30 power plants in India that account for around a quarter of the associated mortality burden. The researchers found that targeting these power plants could potentially save the lives of thousands of Indian citizens. 

The study highlighted the importance of prioritizing action to minimize emissions at the most damaging units, which could be achieved through the deployment of pollution control technologies.

The problems in resolving India’s pollution crisis are massive, though. The country aims to increase coal-generated electricity by 50% between 2018 and 2030, which could lead to an estimated 844,000 premature deaths if these plants are constructed.

4- Tajikistan

Tajikistan is located in the heart of Central Asia. The country’s unique geography, with its mountains and vast deserts, attracts thousands of visitors every year but when it comes to environmental safety, the situation in Tajikistan is alarming. As per recent surveys, pollution is responsible for 19.6% of deaths in Tajikistan.

One of the primary sources of pollution in Tajikistan is the poor management of chemicals and waste. The country generates a large amount of waste, with nearly a kilogram per person per day. Annually, it’s more than 2 million tonnes of waste. 

Another significant contributor to pollution in Tajikistan is the country’s industrial sector. The country’s dependence on coal and cement production, particularly in major cities like Dushanbe, has increased air pollution. According to the World Health Organization, Tajikistan contributes notably to 7 million premature deaths caused by air pollution.  

The country’s poor air quality has been linked to a huge increase in respiratory problems, heart disease, and premature mortality. On the contrary, the lack of effective waste management has led to the contamination of water sources. Public health in Tajikistan is at stake in current times. 

Despite these challenges, Tajikistan has taken steps to address its pollution issues. The country has ratified the Basel and Stockholm conventions, which aim to reduce the generation and transboundary movement of hazardous waste. 

The government has also partnered with international organizations, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to improve chemicals and waste management.

Read More: Most Polluted Cities in the US

5-Burkina Faso

Air pollution is a major concern in Burkina Faso. The country’s air quality is considered unsafe, with the annual mean concentration of PM2.5 exceeding the recommended levels. 

The main sources of air pollution are the activities of all socio-economic sectors, including agriculture, energy, and industry. Another factor is the country’s continued high rate of infectious and communicable diseases. Malaria, for example, is still Burkina Faso’s leading cause of illness and death, with around 19,979 deaths in 2020. It is also the leading cause of death for children under the age of five.

Water pollution is the third vital challenge for people in Burkina Faso. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture has led to water pollution, particularly in the cotton basin in the southwestern part of the country

The government of Burkina Faso has recognized the importance of addressing pollution and has taken initiatives to mitigate the issue. The National Development Strategy (NDS) prioritizes environmental protection and sustainable development. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 16.25% by 2025 and by 29.42% by 2030.

The government has also implemented various projects to improve waste management and reduce pollution. For instance, the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Forests has launched a project to promote the use of gas and improved cooking stoves, which can reduce exposure to indoor pollutants. The project also aims to increase access to clean energy and reduce the use of biomass for cooking.

What is PM2.5 Concentration? 

PM2.5 concentration refers to the number of tiny particles in the air that are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. These particles are called fine particulate matter or PM2.5 for short. 

PM is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. 2.5 refers to the size of these particles. The concentration of PM2.5 in the air is typically measured in micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³). 

Interestingly, human hair is about 70 micrometers thick, so these particles are incredibly small. These tiny particles can come from various sources such as vehicle emissions, industrial activities, construction sites, wildfires, and dust from unpaved roads and fields. 
Read More: Most Polluted Cities in India

Most Polluted Countries in the World Based on PM2.5 Concentration Globally

RankCountryPM2.5 Concentration 
5Burkina Faso46.6
7United Arab Emirates43
10Democratic Republic of Congo 40.8


Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, and Burkina Faso rank among the most polluted countries worldwide due to a combination of industrial emissions, vehicular pollution, and inadequate waste management practices. These nations face severe health challenges, including high rates of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as significant environmental degradation that threatens biodiversity and ecosystems. 

While each country has implemented various policies and initiatives to combat pollution, they continue to struggle with enforcement and the sheer scale of the problem. International cooperation and increased investment in sustainable technologies and infrastructure are crucial to addressing these pollution crises. As global awareness of pollution’s detrimental effects grows, there is hope that collective efforts can lead to cleaner, healthier environments in these heavily affected regions. 


1- What Country has the Most Pollution in 2024?

Bangladesh is the most polluted country in the world as it is facing a significant environmental challenge in the form of pollution.

2- What is the Cleanest Country?

Denmark comes on top when it comes to cleanliness and quality of life. 

3- Which Country is the Cleanest in Asia?

Singapore is renowned for having the cleanest streets and public areas in Asia. 

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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