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.
- 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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