Interactive Map: World’s Most Polluted Places

img world The Blacksmith Institute has created a list and interactive map of the Top-10 worlds worst polluted places.

The list was compiled with the help of a technical advisory board including experts from John Hopkins, Hunter College and Harvard University. The Top-10 were selected from more then 300 potential sites by evaluating where human health is most at risk and where children’s lives are especially threatened.

The report available also for download from the Blacksmith Institute also notes that …most of the worst places are not generally known, even in their countries…


In difference to general assumptions, except one site (Doe Run Corp in La Oroya), none have involvement from major multinational companies. Instead, the worst pollution is from a range of sources:

  • Old companies now long defunct and untraceable
  • Government companies and activities, especially cold war activities
  • Local or regional businesses, not international ones.
  • Clusters of small artisanal activities




In some of the places life expectancy approaches medieval rates (half that of the richest nations). Birth defects are the norm not the exception and in other places children’s asthma rates are measured above 90 percent, or mental retardation is endemic.

The Top-10

  • Linfen, China: active site, water/air polluted by various industries, no cleanup status known
  • Haina,Dominican Republic: not active anymore, soil polluted by lead from battery recycling, no cleanup
  • Ranipet, India: not active anymore, water/soil polluted by chemicals from tanning industry, cleanup planned but not started
  • Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan: not active anymore, water/soil polluted by radioactive waste from Soviet-era uranium plant, cleanup planned with World Bank support
  • Dzerzhinsk,Russia: still partly active, water/soil polluted by chemicals from Soviet-era chemical weapons production and others, currently planning cleanup
  • Norilsk, Russia: active site, air/water/soil polluted by chemicals and radioactive materials from platinum production and other mills, no cleanup status known
  • Rudnaya Pristan, Russia: still partly active, soil polluted by lead from lead mining, no cleanup
  • Chernobyl, Ukraine: not active anymore, water/soil polluted by radioactive materials from Soviet-era power plant accident, ongoing cleanup
  • Kabwe, Zambia: not active anymore, soil polluted by lead from lead mining, cleanup beginning with World Bank support
  • La Oroya, Peru: active site plus not active areas, soil/air polluted by lead from metal mining and production, no cleanup status known

The full report with details plus summaries of 25 additional sites including sites in Europe and USA, is available from the Blacksmith Institute online.

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(4) Comments »

4 Responses to “Interactive Map: World’s Most Polluted Places”

  1. Godofredo Arauzo Says:

    POLLUTION TO THE OROYA CITY 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 was between the 10
    cities more polluted of the world: Blacksmith Institute have was benevolent;
    according to my researchs to many years that I come 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)

  2. Adri Says:

    I think water pollution is the worst thing ever. I wish I could stop it but it won’t be good. I’m doing a speech on it because I care about the world. I love nature and I wish this pollution stops so IT won’t affect anyones lives… it is spreading slowly… maybe in 3010, what will happen? Not a good thing. I think water pollution is one of the most worst things in the world.

  3. Godofredo Arauzo Says:

    Reply to the commentary of Mr Victor Belaunde about Contamination of La
    Oroya, Perú. Dr. Godofredo Arauzo
     Blacksmith Institute visited the
    Oroya city in May 2008. The observations about the achievements in the
    pollution by this metallurgic complex, according to statements of The Inter
    American Association for the Defense of the Environment (AIDA) by its name in
    Spanish.are DECEIVING, because such statements have no basis; is a summary
    presented by Doe Run. AIDA sustain that the environmental quality and the fulfillment
    or the degree of protection for human health of the Oroya city can not be
    evaluated based on the quantity of investment made by the company but it should
    be done based on the current data about the quality of air, lead level in the
    blood and another environmental and health indicators, that the report does not
    take into account (1).Critic that
    Blacksmith is based on limited datum in order to evaluate, for example, the
    sulphur bioxide (SO2) level in the zone. Blacksmith Institute affirms that the
    SO2 concentration in the Oroya city has a day time average of 5.000 ug/m3
    (maximum allowed is 13 ug/m3) (CDC); but during the day that Blacksmith was in the
    Oroya, the SO2 concentration was 0.(1)Finally AIDA concludes that the
    Blacksmith report undermines the efforts to really reach the remediation and
    cleaning of Oroya city (1)AIDA express too that the quality of
    air in the Oroya has deteriorated seriously after the metallurgic complex came
    into Doe Run’s hands. Doe Run itself said that the lead concentration raised to
    1.163%, the arsenic to 606% and the cadmium to 1990% (2). The concentrations of
    lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulphur dioxide and others have substantially increased
    since 1997, mainly due to the increasing of production; for example, the lead
    production raised 25% (2). The inhabitants of  Oroya city are contaminated by a toxic
    cocktail (4); it is a living laboratory. 
    The cadmium concentration (Cd)
    raised dramatically since the acquisition of the complex by Doe Run. In 1999
    the Cd concentration was 0.22 ug/m3 in the Syndicate (the level allowed was
    0.0055 ug/m3); it surpassed by more than 40 times the frontier and did not
    inform anymore to the Ministry for Mines and Energy (MEM) since year 2000; in
    the same way, the arsenic concentration soared meaningly since 1997. There is
    not monitoring of particulate material smaller than 2.5 micra (PM 2.5), that
    are the most dangerous to human health and move easily. Ceverstav says that the
    parameters of air quality have been deteriorated dramatically after Doe Run
    have in charge of the complex (5)The Environment Protection Agency of
    USA (EPA), has 1467 chemical compounds registered as the most harmful and the
    sulphur dioxide (SO2) is ranking number 16 in dangerousness (6). Cevestav showed
    based on the same figures that Doe Run sends to MEM every 3 months, that SO2
    emission had incremented in more than 200% since Doe Run  has  in
    charge the complex (5).Blacksmith affirms that the SO2
    concentration in the Oroya is in average 5,000 ug/m3 (1); another author
    reports that this average is 934 ug/m3 (2); the level allowed is 13 ug/m3  (7). 
    The day time concentration is higher between 8 am and 5 pm and it reaches a peak of 2,100 ppb
    (the allowed value is 280 ppb) (5). In August 13. 2008 the SO2 concentration arrived
    to an historic and horrifying limit: 27,000 ug/m3 (8-9-10) (the allowed figure is 13 ug/m3 (7).   Another
    heavy metals and highly toxic compounds are not analysed in the Oroya:
    vanadium, uranium, mercury, antimony, barium, selenium, chromium, cobalt,
    molybdenum, nickel, and aluminum (2). The inhabitants of the Oroya are contaminated, not only with lead but too
    with cadmium, arsenic, sulphur dioxide, and antimony, as well; the antimony
    concentration is 30 times higher than in USA (11): .  There has not been any decrease in
    the air concentration of lead in the last 5 years in the Oroya; in Huanchan
    such concentration is above 15 times the level permitted; in the months of
    January and February 2007 it was an excess of 245% above the allowed level in
    Huanchan station; in 2006 the cadmium concentration exceeded 48 times the
    levels allowed by the WHO (12): lead production increased by 25% (2). Doe Run monitors only specific
    sources; it does not monitor the toxic agents that are emitted through the 95
    small chimneys neither it monitors  to the  deposits of concentrateds and deposits to arsenic
    of Vados and Malpaso, as it does not monitor either the elimination coming from
    the industrial incinerator and the cock plant that was emitting 23,800  meters cubits per day of toxic gases (PAMA). Doe Run explained that the pollution of the
    Oroya had diminished; one attendant person spitted that the pollution has
    increased; the lecturer answered: show me a document about your statement and
    the person replied: the best document who I count of is my contaminated body’
    (4).The SO2 emissions from the cooper
    Peruvian smelting are among the production sources of the highest sulphur
    dioxide concentration in the world and they are also among the most
    contaminated production sources in the world (13).There is not concrete information
    about the quality control systems to the sampling and to the analysis of the
    monitoring procedure used by the company; we are not certain about the accuracy,
    confidentiality and suitable of the information reported to MEM; the figures
    reported to MEM could be considered as an approximation and are under valuated
    and  they are not in electronic neither
    in graphic form (5). The contamination generated in La
    Oroya is not only limited to this city, but it also pollutes distant areas like
    Concepcion, 100 km far away of Oroya: University of Missouri found lead in the
    blood of children with ages 0 to 6 years: 20 to 44 ug/dl in the 72.22% ; 10 to
    19 ug/dl in the 16.67%; 45 to 69 ug/dl in the 8.33% and less than 10 ug/dl in
    the 2.78%; it means that the 97.22% of the children of the city of Conception
    are contaminated with more than 10 ug/dl of lead in their blood; the amount
    permitted was 10 ug/dl; but, at present the Academy of Paediatrics of USA says
    that the maximum allowed is 0 ug/dl of lead in the blood (14). In  the rural zone near the Oroya, Cuchimachay
    there is an amount of 59.26 ppm (the allowed level being 3 ppm) of cadmium in
    the soil; there is no vegetal cap in this place (15). The metallurgic complex of  Oroya has 37 liquid flows that go to the
    Mantaro river; Doe Run monitors only 12. The rules of the Peruvian state about
    monitoring of the quality of water in the mining works state that all the
    liquid discharges that go to surface waters must be constantly monitored
    (5-16).The 2006, 26 July Doe Run obtained the ISO
    14001:2004 certificate (17) and the 2008, 11 March was removed because the
    company did not fulfull the Peruvian environmental laws, and did not have
    appropriate measures for preventing the pollution (18).Doe Run the 2007 commited 4
    heavy  and 1 simple violence environment
    that the Peruvian state had to put to Doe Run a fine to $ 724,500 (The Comercio
    08. 20-12)  In Huancayo, 120 km far away from La
    Oroya there is jurisprudence. In 1942 the Judiciary Power orders to the Cerro
    de Pasco Copper Corporation, owner of Oroya at that time, to pay a compensation
    of  $ 200,000 to Bazo Velarde, because of
    the harms caused to the Jatunhuasi Livestock, by the smokes of  the Oroya (19).The Judiciary Power (20), the Constitutional Court (21) and the Inter American
    Commission for Human Rights (CIDH, for its name in Spanish) (22), demanded that
    the Peruvian state to be aware about the health of the inhabitants of Oroya..Oroya pollutes the surface and deep
    waters, the soil, the air, and generates acid rain (23), factors that cause
    damages to human and animal health, the ecosystems and biodiversity, in a way
    greatly irreversible.  The smokes of the
    Oroya have affected 700,000 hectares around the Oroya (2-24).Doe Run will reduce its
    contamination in two circumstances: when it uses up to date technology as put
    in practice in Herculeanum, or when it reduces the refining tons. The Trial
    plant, in Canada, decreased in 25% the lead concentration in the children
    blood, and reduced the concentration of heavy metals in the air in more than
    75%, by the use of clean technology; in the Paso when the foundry was closed,
    the lead concentration in the air decreased immediately and the lead
    concentration in the children’s blood plummeted by more than 75%; in Torreón
    Mexico, the government ordered to refine only a 50%, and similar effects were
    obtained (5). The damages must be paid by Doe Run according to the world
    consensus THE THAT POLLUTE PAY, set in practice in Europe since 1972 (25); the
    way as it does in Herculaneum can reply these actions in Oroya city (2-27)..The 2008 August 13  Oroya city has been confirmed as the most polluted
    city to the world. This day the SO2 concentration in air in the Oroya reached
    an historical and horrifying level: as journal The Comercio said (8); it arrive
    27,000 ug/m3; while the allowed level was 13 ug/m3 (7) and the device that
    measured the concentration got to its maximum limit probably if the device had
    had more space in its scale that figure would have been higher (8-9-10), but
    when Blacksmith was visiting the Oroya the SO2 concentration in air was 0
    (zero) (1). Some other figures confirm that  Oroya is the most polluted city on the earth:
    according the report Mantaro Revive 2007: in the Ancienty Oroya  has a soil concentration of 4713 ppm of
    arsenic (As) while the allowed amount is 12 ppm, and the cadmium (Cd) has
    193.87 ppm while the permitted amount is 14 ppm, according to the Canadian
    Environmental Quality Guidelines (28).

  4. August Bokal Says:

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