Top Ten Most Polluted Places in the World

Updated April 16, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

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.

Country Problem Main Pollutant Exposure Pathway
Agbogbloshie, Ghana Lead Dumpsite 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, Ukraine Radiation Radioactive 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
Indonesia Citarum River contamination Numerous chemicals including lead, cadmium, chromium, and pesticides Ingestion of contaminated water used for drinking, irrigation, factory processes
Dzerhinsk, Russia Chemical weapons manufacture Numerous chemicals and toxic byproducts from numerous chemical-manufacturing processes Ingestion of contaminated groundwater
Hazaribagh, Bangladesh Chromium Tanneries Ingestion of contaminated water supply
Kabwe, Zambia Lead Lead mining Contaminated soil
Kalimantan, Indonesia Mercury, cadmium Gold mining Mercury vapor inhalation and water contamination
Matanza-Riachuelo, Argentina Volatile organic compounds, including toluene Chemical manufacture Soil contamination
Niger River Delta, Nigeria Petroleum Petroleum operations causing spills Groundwater and soil contamination
Norilsk, Russia Copper, nickel oxide, other heavy metals Mining and smelting Ingestion of heavy metal particulates
Source: the Blacksmith Institute, 2014.




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