Posted by: Danielle | August 11, 2010

12 Of The World’s Most Polluted Cities With Pictures

A list of the some of the world’s most polluted cities, most of these are the results of careless treatment of the environment. Needless to say you probably won’t want to be visiting most of these anytime soon. Quick fact: 16 out of 20 of the worlds most polluted cities (judging by air quality) are in China.

The cities aren’t numbered in any specific order, I just numbered them as I went along.

1. Haina, Dominican Republic

Number Affected: 84,700

Haina, also known as Bajos de Haina, has often been called ” The Dominican Chernobyl” . It is home to a closed automobile battery recycling smelter, and almost all of the population suffers from lead poisoning, with some experts claiming it has the highest levels of lead contamination in the world. It is common for the citizens to have nine to ten times more lead in their blood than what is deemed safe by the EPA . The source of the lead is believed to be the old factory, the factory has since moved to a different area.

Blacksmith Institute~A factory in Haina

2. La Oroya,Peru

Number Affected: 30,000

The smelter in this town is the leading employer and the cause of the cities pollution. Every year 70,000 tonnes of copper, 122,000 tonnes of lead and 45,000 tonnes of zinc are produced.

How bad is the problem? Many people in this town are dying from lead poisoning.  The very air they breath is toxic, some residents of the town say that on some days they have to stay inside because the air is so heavy it is impossible to breathe.A 1999 study showed extremely high levels of pollution with 85 times more arsenic, 41 times more cadmium, and 13 times more lead than is generally considered safe to breathe. Most children under the age of six had toxic levels of lead in their blood six times higher than the maximum safe limit as set by the World Health Organization (which is 10 micrograms). Many were also diagnosed with high levels of other toxins such as: cadmium,arsenic, and mercury. Despite all of these the residents of the town don’t want the smelter shut down because it provides jobs.

~a picture of a factory and the surrounding mountains

3. Linfen,China

Number Affected: 4,000,000+

Linfen China is considered to be the world’s most polluted city, with a heavy cloud of smoke that covers the city at all times.  The main factor causing the pollution is their coal production.

The citizens suffer from choking clouds of dust and smoke.  It is said that if clothes are left out to dry they will turn black before they dry, so one can imagine the affect it has on anything outside, including people. Local clinics are seeing cases of bronchitis, pneumonia, and lung cancer increase at an alarming rate. The children in this city have high rates of lead poisoning. Arsenicosis, a disease caused by drinking water contaminated with arsenic is epidemic in all areas, 52% of all drinking water in the city is considered unsafe to drink.

The World’s Top 20 Most Polluted Cities

~The picture above is of a street in Linfen the most polluted city in the world

4. Chernobyl,Ukraine

Number Affected: 500 (in Chernobyl), and 5,000,000 in areas covered in radioactive fallout

The world’s worst nuclear disaster occurred in 1986, and the affects are still being seen today. After the nuclear plant’s meltdown it has been estimated 100  times more radiation was released into the air than the fallout than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Chernobyl and the areas in the immediate area suffer from high levels of radiation, and the 19 mile radius around the plant remains uninhabitable. The facts on the effects of the accident is subject to an intense debate, although one thing is generally accepted by everyone: thyroid cancer has been seen in excess of what would be considered normal since this accident, children have been affected most by this. I would suggest looking up the accident yourself and choosing what you would like to believe as accurate information.

– a picture of the site where the nuclear reactor once stood.

5. Sukinda, India

Number Affected: 2,600,000

Sukinda contains 97% of India’s chromite ore deposits, and has one of the largest chromite ore mines in the world. Twelve mines continue to operate today without any environmental management plans. 3o million tons of waste rock have been spread out in surrounding areas and the nearby Brahmani riverbanks.

The mine discharges untreated water into the rivers, which flow through an area that is flood prone which results in further contamination. In the area 70% of the surface water, and 60%% of the drinking water are contaminated with Chromium at more than two times the safe drinking level internationally. It has been recored at 20 times the safe drinking limit several times over the years. The air and soil in the area has also been contaminated.

The workers at the coal mine are heavily exposed to the contaminants daily. Tuberculosis, gastrointestinal bleeding and asthma are common, birth defects, infertility and still births have also been on the rise. 84.7% of the deaths in the mining areas, and 86.4% of the deaths in nearby industrial villages are due to chromite mine related diseases.

~ Untreated water in Sukinda

6. Kabwe, Zambia

Number Affected: 255,000

Located in southern Africa, Kabwe was found to have an abundance of lead and zinc in 1902. Soon after, mining and smelting industries moved in and ran almost continuously until 1994 without ever dealing with any of the lead contamination that had occurred. There are no more running mines, in the area and the city is now suffering from poisoned soil and water. A recent study found that the soil in a 12 1/2 mile radius (20 km) had lead, cadmium,copper, and zinc at much higher rates than those recommended by the World Health Organization. There is a waterway that was once used by the smelters to carry away waste, that has no restrictions or safeguards to stop people from entering the water and local children use this for bathing.

On average the children of Kabwe have 5-10 more lead in their blood then the permissible maximum as set by the EPA, and in many cases it is potenially fatal. Younger men often search for scrap metals to sell and also suffer lead poisoning. A recent flood in the area washed years of built up waste into people’s gardens and homes, as well as the city streets. Now many homes are contaminated with lead.

~Men search for scrap metal in Kabwe

7. Dzerzhinsk, Russia

Number Affected: 300,000

Until the end of the cold war, Dzerzhinsk was one of Russia’s principal sites for chemical weapon productions, and today it still remains a significant center for chemical manufacturing. An estimated 300,000 tons of chemical waste carelessly and improperly disposed of between 1930 and 1998. 190 different identified chemicals were released into the groundwater, in places these chemicals have turned the water into a white sludge containing dioxins, and phenol the levels are reported to be 17 million times the safe limit.

Because a number of industries are no longer in operation, groundwater has risen as well as the water level in canals which threaten to release massive amounts of arsenic, mercury,lead, and dioxins into the Oka river basin a source of drinking water for the nearby city Nizhny Novgorod. Drinking supplies in this area and adjoining areas are heavily laced with contamination.

A quarter of the cities residents are still employed at factories that produce toxic chemicals. There is a shocking amount of deaths below 40 in local cemeteries. And the death rate has exceeded the birth rate by 260%. There are 900 deaths a year in a city of 300,000. The average life expectancy for a man is 42, and 47 for a women.

The city has been labeled by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most chemically polluted city in the world.

~ a factory in Dzerzhinsk

8. Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan

Number Affected: 25,000

There are twenty three tailing dumps and thirteen waste rock dumps located throughout Mailuu-Suu. During the Soviet era there was a Uranium plant which produced more than 10,000 metric tons of Uranium in twenty years. Millions of people in Asia could be affected by this because the area is highly prone to seismic activity. An estimated 300,000 cubic meters fell into a river after an earthquake in 2005. 1.9 cubic meters of contamination are still in the dumps.

A 1999 study showed that the number of cases of any form of cancer in this area is twice the average of the rest of Kyrgyzstan. factory in Mailuu-Suu

9. Tianying,China

Number Affected: 140,000

Tianying produces about half of all the lead in China, but low level technology, illegal operations, and almost no pollution control has led to severe lead poisoning in Tianying’s residents. It is also believed that some small scale recycling plants are located in the area, which have a reputation for their heavy polluting. The lead producers have been pressured by local residents and officials to shut down production. The average lead levels in the air and soil are (respectively) eight and a half, and ten times higher than health standards allow. Local farms are also contaminated with lead dust with as much as 24 times the amount of the national standards.

Many residents, with children being the largest part, suffer from lead poisoning and is common effects such as: lower IQ, learning disabilities, hyper activity, short attention spans,hearing and visual problems, stunted physical growth,kidney malfunction and failure,stomach aches, and brain damage. There are also premature births and cases of women giving birth to smaller, underdeveloped infants.

The city was labeled one of the eight most polluted cities in China.

(no picture available)

10. Sumgayit, Azerbaijan

Number Affected: 275,000

Sumgayit used to be a major soviet industrial center, it was home to more than forty factories that produced industrial and agricultural chemicals. Some of the products included: synthetic rubber,chlorine, aluminium, pesticides and detergents. While these factories where active they released more than 70-120,000 tons of harmful emissions into the air a year. Little to no precaution was taken to ensure safety the focus was instead on low cost production. Untreated sewage and mercury contaminated sludge are still dumped in the area.

During the Soviet era Sumgayit had one of the highest mortality rates, and it still persists today. Sumgayit has 22-51% higher cancer rates than the rest of Azerbaijan, and there is an 8% increase in the cancer related mortality rate compared to the rest of the country. A high percentage of babies are born still born or premature, and they suffer genetic defects, such as down syndrome,bone disease,spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and anencephaly, and mutations such as: club feet,cleft palate, and additional digits.

~A view of an industrial area of Sumgayit Azerbaijan

11. Norilsk, Russia

Founded as a slave camp in 1935, Norilsk is Russia’s northernmost major city. The mining and smelting process in this area stared in the 1930′s and today it is the world’s largest heavy metals smelting complex. 500 tons of copper oxides, 500 tons of nickel oxides, and 2 million tons of sulfur are released into the air each year. The city is one of the worst polluted cities in Russia, the snow there is black, the air tastes and smells of sulfur and the average life expectancy in Norilsk is at least 10 year below the average in Russia. The pollution affects the 37 mile (60 km) radius around the city.

Respiratory disease rates are high in this region, especially among children.Children also suffer from ear, nose and throat diseases. Chronic diseases of the lungs, respiratory tracts, and digestive systems are not uncommon and these can result in lung cancer. Premature and late term pregnancy complications are frequent.

Norilsk~ A deserted Norilsk street.

12. Ranipet, India

Number Affected: 50,000+

Ranipet is a medium sized community located 100 miles from Chennai , the fourth largest area in India. The soil and groundwater of Ranipet are dangerously contaminated after decades of solid waste and runoff from local factories. There is an estimated 150,000 tons of solid waste accumulated in two decades are stacked in an open yard on the facility premises. Drinking wells in the area have been abandoned and crops fail to grow in this area. Mere contact with this water causes painful skin lacerations.

Blacksmith Institute~ A river in Ranipet


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