Friday, 8 February 2008

the world's top ten most polluted places

I was surprised to find on a mainstream website,, a list of the world's top ten most polluted places. Black snow slick with deadly toxins, blankets of choking coal dust and acrid carcinogenic air: welcome to life in the world’s most polluted places.

Poisoned with chemical waste, heavy metals and radiation, these oft overlooked hellholes are the relics of an environmentally ignorant industrial era – contaminated cesspools where living is tantamount to a death sentence. Compiled by the US-based Blacksmith Institute, an independent environmental group, this Top Ten list of the world's most severely polluted places spans seven countries and affects more than 12 million people.

“In some towns, life expectancy approaches medieval rates and birth defects are the norm, not the exception,” said a Blacksmith spokesman. “In others, children's asthma rates are measured above 90%, and mental retardation is endemic.” Six of the ten killer communities are in China, India and Russia, where fast-track economic expansion and decades of unregulated mining and chemical production have left a legacy of devastation, both human and environmental. But it’s not too late. Blacksmith founder and director, Richard Fuller, said the unhealthy effects of all the worst places across the globe could be significantly mitigated for less than $1 billion. Simple fixes like digging up the toxic materials and moving them to safer areas away from people can have huge benefits.

“If you spend 10% of the money, you deal with 90% of the problem,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that children are sick and dying in these polluted places – and it’s not rocket science to fix them.” To find out more about the world's most polluted places (listed alphabetically, because the top ten are unranked within the list).

1. Sumgayıt, Azerbaijan
A major Soviet industrial centre, Sumgayit housed more than 40 factories manufacturing industrial and agricultural chemicals. During the Soviet era, Sumgayit had one of the highest mortality rates in the country and the legacy of illness and death persists: cancer rates in Sumgayit are up to 51% higher than the national average in Azerbaijan and a high percentage of babies are stillborn or born with serious genetic defects.

2. Linfen, Shanxi, China
Residents of Linfen, which has the worst air quality in China, claim they literally choke on coal dust in the evenings. The high levels of pollution are taking a serious toll on human health: clinics are recording growing cases of bronchitis, pneumonia and lung cancer. The children of Shanxi Province also have high rates of lead poisoning and a growing number of local deaths in recent years have been linked to pollution.

3.Tianying, China
Tianying, population 140,000, is one of the largest lead production bases in China, with an output accounting for half of the country's total production. Low-level technologies, illegal operation and the lack of any serious pollution control measures have caused several severe lead poisoning cases in the region. Residents, particularly children, suffer from lead poisoning and its related effects: lead encephalopathy, lower IQs, short attention spans, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, impaired physical growth, hearing and visual problems, stomach aches, irritation of the colon, kidney malfunction, anaemia and brain damage.

4. Sukinda, Orissa, India
Sukinda Valley, in the State of Orissa, contains 97% of India's chromite ore deposits and one of the largest open cast chromite ore mines in the world. Twelve mines continue to operate without any environmental management plans and more than 30 million tons of waste rock are spread over the surrounding areas and the Brahmani riverbanks. Chromite mine workers are constantly exposed to contaminated dust and water. Gastrointestinal bleeding, tuberculosis and asthma are common ailments. Infertility, birth defects and stillbirths have also resulted.

5. Vapi [Wāpi], Gujarāt, India
The town of Vapi, home to 71,000 people, marks the southern end of India's Golden Corridor, a 400km belt of industrial estates in the state of Gujarat. Many of these are chemical manufacturing estates producing petrochemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, textiles, dyes, fertilisers, leather products, paint and chlor-alkali. The waste products discharged contain heavy metals, cyanides, pesticides, complex aromatic compounds and other toxins. Many residents have no choice but to drink contaminated well water, resulting in very high incidences of respiratory diseases, chemical dermatitis, carcinoma, skin, lung and throat cancers. Women in the area report exceedingly high incidences of birth defects and infertility, while children's ailments include respiratory and skin diseases and retarded growth.

6. La Oroya, Junín, Peru
Since 1922, the people of La Oroya – a mining town in the Peruvian Andes with a population of 35,000 and a poly-metallic smelter – have been exposed to toxic emissions and waste from the plant, which has been largely responsible for the dangerously high lead levels found in the blood of local children: 99% have blood lead levels that exceed acceptable limits. Lead poisoning is particularly harmful to children’s mental development. Absurdly large rates of premature deaths are linked to noxious gasses from the smelter. Lung-related ailments are also commonplace.

7. Dzerzhinsk, Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia
Until the end of the Cold War, Dzerzhinsk was among Russia's main production sites of chemical weapons. Almost 300,000 tons of chemical waste were improperly disposed of between 1930 and 1998. In places, chemicals have turned the local water into a white sludge containing dioxins and high levels of phenol – an industrial chemical that can cause acute poisoning and death. These levels are reportedly 17 million times the safe limit. A quarter of the city's 300,000 residents still work in factories that produce toxic chemicals and in the local cemetery, there are a shocking number of graves of people below the age of 40.

8. Norilskoe [Noril’sk], Taymyr, Russia
An industrial city founded in 1935 as a slave labour camp, the Siberian city of Norilsk contains the world's largest heavy metals smelting complex, where nearly 500 tons each of copper and nickel oxides and two million tons of sulphur dioxide are released annually into the air. The city has been accused of being one of the most polluted places in Russia, where the snow is black, the air tastes of sulphur and the life expectancy for factory workers is 10 years below the Russian average.

9. Chernobyl, Ukraine
The world's worst nuclear disaster took place on April 26, 1986, when testing in the Chernobyl power plant triggered a fiery meltdown of the reactor's core. Thirty people were killed in the accident, 135,000 were evacuated and one hundred times more radiation was released than by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Twenty years later, the 19 mile exclusion zone around the plant remains uninhabitable. Although an enormous amount of radiation was released during the disaster, most of the radioactivity remains trapped within the plant itself. Some estimate that more than 100 tons of uranium and other radioactive products, such as plutonium, could be released if there is another accident.

10. Kabwe, Zambia
Kabwe is one of six towns in close proximity to the Copperbelt, once Zambia's thriving industrial base. In 1902, rich deposits of zinc and lead were discovered there. Mining and smelting commenced soon after and ran almost continuously until 1994 without addressing the potential dangers of lead contamination. The mine and smelter are no longer operating, but have left a city poisoned by debilitating concentrations of lead dust in the soil and by metals in the water. Most workers and residents are exposed to toxic levels of lead through inhaling dust in the area, which is home to more than 255,000 people. On average, children's blood lead levels in Kabwe are 5 to 10 times the permissible EPA maximum.

1 comment:

garauzo@email said...


The years 2006 and 2007 the Blacksmith Institute have accomplished a research about the cities more contaminated to the world and arrived to the conclusion that the Oroya City are between the 10 cities more polluted of the world and the Environmental Graffiti the 2008, consider that are between the five more polluted too of the world : Blacksmith Institute and Environmental Graffiti have been benevolent; according to my researchs to many years that I am publishing, the Oroya is the more polluted to Peru, Latin America and of the world and every day is being more polluted: lead in blood in children in the Ancient Oroya in average 53.7 ug/dl ( DIGESA 1999); pregnancies women 39.49 ig/dl ( UNES 2000), new borns children 19.06 ug/dl, puerperal 319 ug/100 grams/placenta ( Castro 2003) and workers 50 ig/dl ( Doe Run 2003). Top lead in blood accepted 10 ug/dl; present day is 0 ug/dl ( Pediatric of Academy to USA)
When the Oroya city was in hands to the CentroMin eliminated only by the upper chimney to 167.500 meters, in average by day in tons: sulfur dioxide 1000, lead 2500, arsenic 2500, cadmium, particulate matter 50 and so on, more 24,000 to toxis gas product to the incomplete combustion of the coal, without count it is eliminated by industrial incinerator y by the 97 smalls chimneys, it is estimated 15,000 (PAMA . El Complejo Metalúrgico de la Oroya, 1996); they add 45,000 tons by day,

Doe Run envoy every three months the concentrations of the heavy metals to the Ministry to the Energy and Mines and with the sames datums Ceverstav have demostrated the pollution was increased; for example the sulfur dioxide it have increased in near to 300 %, by increment to the production (Cederstav. La Oroya no Espera 2002

The American Assotiation to the Environment say that the environmental quality to the Oroya it is serius deteriorated since that Doe Run was owner and the same enterprise
declared that the concentrations of the heavy metals gas it is ncreased in the air: lead 1160 %, cadmium 1990 % and arsenic 6006 % (Portugal, et al. Los Humos de Doe Run 2003)