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India now has the world's dirtiest air

People commute through smog in New Delhi.
People commute through smog in New Delhi. Photo: Ramesh Sharma/India Today Group via Getty Images

According to a recent WHO analysis, Indian cities are now the most polluted in the world, accounting for 14 of the 20 cities with the worst air pollution. This is not shocking news: Indian cities, including the capital, New Delhi, make international news for their choking smog every winter.

Why it matters: Air pollution is one of the world's leading causes of death. Fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) is linked with a wide range of health issues, especially heart and lung disease but also diabetes, hyperactivity and autism. Per Lancet, these health issues are on the rise in rapidly developing middle- and low-income countries, with the largest increases occurring in India and Bangladesh.