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Top Ten Most Polluted Places in the World

This Top Ten list was compiled by the Technical Advisory Board of the Blacksmith Institute, an environmental NGO based in New York. The criteria used in ranking include the size of the affected population, the severity of the toxins involved, and reliable evidence of health problems associated with the pollution.

CountryProblemMain Pollutant ExposurePathway
Agbogbloshie, GhanaLeadDumpsite containing 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, including refrigerators, microwaves, and televisions. Air and soil contamination
Chernobyl, UkraineRadiationRadioactive dust including uranium, plutonium, cesium-137, strontium-90, and other metals in and around the area of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.Air and soil and water contamination
IndonesiaCitarum River contaminationNumerous chemicals including lead, cadmium, chromium, and pesticidesIngestion of contaminated water used for drinking, irrigation, factory processes
Dzerhinsk, RussiaChemical weapons manufactureNumerous chemicals and toxic byproducts from numerous chemical-manufacturing processesIngestion of contaminated groundwater
Hazaribagh, BangladeshChromiumTanneriesIngestion of contaminated water supply
Kabwe, ZambiaLeadLead miningContaminated soil
Kalimantan, IndonesiaMercury, cadmiumGold miningMercury vapor inhalation and water contamination
Matanza-Riachuelo, ArgentinaVolatile organic compounds, including tolueneChemical manufactureSoil contamination
Niger River Delta, NigeriaPetroleumPetroleum operations causing spillsGroundwater and soil contamination
Norilsk, RussiaCopper, nickel oxide, other heavy metalsMining and smeltingIngestion of heavy metal particulates
Source: the Blacksmith Institute, 2014.

 

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