5 Worst Cities to Visit if You
Enjoy Breathing Fresh Air


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5 Worst Cities to Visit if You Enjoy Breathing Fresh Air


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by Taj Bates

We live in a day and age when people in certain parts of the world are literally buying fresh air — yes, air . . . bottled and shipped in from the Canadian Rockies, the English countryside, Australian beaches. . .

Though this is just a novelty industry at present, it is an industry borne of the high levels of deadly air pollution plaguing many cities, in Asia especially.

According to the World Health Organization, 3.7 million people die from diseases caused by prolonged exposure to ambient air pollution every year, worldwide.

Plume Labs, the enviro-tech company behind the Plume Air Report app, tracks air pollution levels around the globe.

We dug into their data from the past two years (2016 and 2017), and discovered quite a number of popular tourist destinations high up on the World’s Worst Air Quality list.

#1 – New Delhi, India 

184 AQI

India’s capital city ranked first of the worst on Plume’s air quality index (AQI) for 2017. In fact, the toxic smog got so bad during a period in November 2017, United Airlines temporarily cancelled all flights there.

Worse yet, New Delhi doesn’t just have the highest AQI, but also the highest level of Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5).

PM2.5 are microscopic, inhalable particles that form when pollutants chemically combine in the atmosphere. When inhaled, these minute bad boys can negatively affect the heart and lungs, shortening one’s life span considerably under long-term exposure.

#5 – Xi’an, China 

133 AQI

China has no shortage of cities on the World’s Worst list. The highest ranking one from a tourist perspective is the ancient city of Xi’an, home of the Terracotta Army.


The Army is comprised of 8,000, life-sized terracotta sculptures of soldiers, horses and chariots that were buried to protect the 3rd century, B.C.E., tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor. 

Though the tomb is enclosed in an indoor structure, that does not cancel out the alarming fact that Xi’an has the sixth highest level of PM2.5 in the world. 

View 3 More Cities


Download our Travel IQ app on iOS and Android to read the full list of 5 cities with the worst AQI from a tourist perspective.





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Don’t Leave Home Without It


  • Tips, advice + how-tos
  • City guides + maps
  • Packing checklists

Travel smarter, safer, healthier, happier – equipped and inspired to see n’ experience the world like never before!

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