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The Ten Most Polluted Cities in the World

Mark Piazzalunga

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The ranking is based on the data of Blacksmith Institute (an organization working against pollution and its damages) and Green Cross Switzerland. It's a sad chart and it shows how profit and personal interests can destroy the lives of many.

AGBOGBLOSHIE, GHANA

Agbogbloshie, in Accra, Ghana, is the second largest e-waste processing area in West Africa. E-waste, or electronic waste, is a broad term referring to a range of electronics. Heavy metals released in the burning process easily migrate into homes, food markets and other public areas. Samples taken around the perimeter of Agbogbloshie found a presence of lead levels as high as 18,125 ppm in soil. The standard for lead in soil is 400 ppm. A previous study confirmed that 40,000 people were at risk, now it's 250,000.

CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE

The worst nuclear disaster hit this city on the night of April 25, 1986 when testing in the Chernobyl power plant a massive meltdown of the reactor’s core releasing more than 100 times the radioactivity of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Certain deaths in the incident, 65. The deaths for csncer years later, more than a million according to Greenpeace. The reactor was buried in a concrete casing designed to absorb radiation and contain the remaining fuel. However the structure was only intended to last no more than 30 years, this is the 28th since the disaster and thousands of people are at risk of cancer and leukemia.

CITARUM RIVER, INDONESIA

It covers an area of 13,000 square kilometers and it comes to contact with 9 million people. The river provides 80% of Giacarta water authority and supply more than 2,000 farms. Contaminants from both industrial and domestic sources are present in the Citarum River. Manganese and other heavy metals levels in the water are above the standards. Manganese in the water is four times higher than normal.

DZERSHINSK, RUSSIA

Throughout the Soviet period, Dzershinsk was one of Russia’s principle sites of chemical manufacturing, including chemical weapons. Between 1930 and 1998, an estimated 300,000 tons of chemical wastes were improperly landfilled in Dzershinsk and the surrounding areas. High concentrations of toxic phenol in the air has led to residents of Dzershinsk suffering from increased levels of diseases and cancers of the eyes, lungs, and kidneys. Life expectancy is really low: 47 years for women, 42 for men. The city has 245,000 residents, they are all at risk.

HAZARIBAGH, BANGLADESH

There are 270 tanneries in Bangladesh, 90% of them concentrated in Hazaribagh in 25 hectares of land. Together, the tanneries employ around 8,000 to 12,000 people. Every day, the tanneries collectively dump 22,000 cubic liters of toxic waste, including cancer-causing hexavalent chromium, into the Buriganga, Dhaka’s main river and a key water supply. The homes of tannery workers in Hazaribagh are built next to contaminated streams, ponds, and canals. 185,000 at risk.

KABWE, ZAMBIA

Kabwe, the second largest city in Zambia, is located about 150 kilometers north of the nation’s capital, Lusaka. In 1902, rich deposits of lead were discovered, leading mining and smelting operations to run almost continuously for over 90 years without the government adequately addressing the potential dangers of lead. Smelting was largely unregulated throughout the 20th century in Kabwe, and these smelters released heavy metals in the form of dust particles, which settled on the ground in the surrounding areas. The result was a total contamination and now the lead level in the blood of the children exceed the limit by ten times.

KALIMANTAN, INDONESIA

In the area Artisanal Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) forms the primary source of income for 43,000 people. The vast majority of ASGM miners globally utilize mercury in the gold extraction process. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) estimates that more than 1,000 tons of mercury are released into the environment each year through this process, which constitutes about 30 percent of the anthropogenic mercury emissions. The quantity of mercury in the water is twice than normal Indonesian standard.

MATANZA RIACHUELO, ARGENTINA

The Matanza-Riachuelo River Basin is more than 60 kilometers long and houses a number of SME clusters, including chemical manufacturers. It is estimated that 15,000 industries are actively releasing effluent into the river, which cuts through 14 municipalities in Buenos Aires. Chemical manufacturers are responsible for more than a third of the pollution. The level of chromium in the soil is seven times higher than regular one. 12,000 are at serious risk of respiratory and diarrheal diseases and 80% of water samples taken weren't safe to drink.

NIGER RIVER DELTA, NIGERIA

Niger River Delta occupies 8% of total Nigeria land mass. Between1976and2001therewerenearly7,000 incidents involving oil spills where most of the oil was never recovered. As of 2012, some 2 million barrels (320,000 m3) of oil were being extracted from the delta every day. An average of 240,000 barrels of crude oil are spilled in the Niger delta every year due to mechanical failure, third party activity, and many unknown causes. Groundwater and soil are totally compromised.

NORILSK, RUSSIA

Norilsk is a mining city founded in 1935. Nearly 500 tons each of copper and nickel oxides and two million tons of sulfur dioxide are released annually into the air. Life expectancy for factory workers in Norilsk is 10 years below the Russian average. Children are especially vulnerable and become ill 1.5 times more frequently than children from surrounding districts. While investments have recently been made in reducing environmental emissions, the surrounding area remains seriously contaminated. 130,000 people at serious risk.

To find out more: blacksmithinstitute.org and greencross.ch

In the photo Sector 4, Nuclear Power Plant of Chernobyl.


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