While Beijing smothered Monday under a cloud of smog and a reputation for horrible air, other cities in the world quietly vie for the tarnished crown of world's most polluted city.
And this year's winner is:
Beijing and much of northeastern China are currently shrouded in a smog red alert, causing some factories to shut down, highways to close and airlines to cancel flights. But the
WHO's ranking, released in May, is based on the amount of PM 2.5 – particle matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter common to dust, soot and smoke. PM 2.5 is nasty because it can get stuck in the lungs and cause or aggravate asthma and other long-term health problems.
WHO guidelines call for no more than 10 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic meter of air. Dusty Zabol averages a whopping 217. Other cities cracking the dubious list's top five include
Beijing suffered Monday with levels hovering above 200; other Chinese cities have pushed close to 1,000 in recent days.
The tide can be turned with effort. The 2015 most-polluted city,
Breathe easier, America. The worst U.S. city didn't crack WHO's top 1,000. Visalia, Calif., checked in at 1,080.