The 10 Most Polluted African Cities

Written by Keren Mikva

Air pollution causes more deaths in Africa than malnutrition or dirty water, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Tainted air claims 712,000 lives a year. This is the first major attempt to calculate both the human and financial cost of the continent’s pollution, The Guardian reported. By comparison, 542,000 people die from unsafe water, 391,000 from unsafe sanitation and 275,000 from malnutrition.

Most African countries struggle with air pollution but few have formal regulations — or enforce them — against emissions. Rapid urbanization, population growth and traditional reliance on wood burning for cooking and heat have raised the level of pollution. The World Health Organization ranked air and water pollution for cities in 2014.

Air pollution could develop into a health and climate crisis like that endured in China and India, a study by a global policy forum has found.

Each number listed below reflects a city’s PM10, or the annual mean concentration of particulate matter of less than 10 microns of diameter, and are shown in micrograms per cubic meter. Here are 10 of the most polluted African cities.

Sources:, World Health Organization,,, World Bank, Imperial.AC.UK,,,, Environmental Chemistry: Green Chemistry and Pollutants in Ecosystems,,,,,,

This is an updated version of an AFKInsider originally published on April 28, 2014.