World's Most Polluted Places Revealed

No doubt the world is witnessing development at a fast pace but pollution remains a grievous issue affecting millions of people all over the globe. As per the World Health Organization, a staggering 1 million people die every year due to pollution and many more are affected.

A report titled, "The Top Ten Toxic Threats: Cleanup, Progress, and Ongoing Challenges," published by Zurich-based Green Cross Switzerland and New York-based Blacksmith Institute have come out with the name of the places highly affected by pollution. Read on to check the name of such places.

1. Kalimantan, Indonesia

  • Major pollutant:Primarily mercury,cadmium

  • Population affected: 225,000.

The Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, Kalimantan is composed of five provinces. Out of the five provinces, two of those provinces, central and south, Artisanal Small-scale Gold Mining form the primary source of income for 43,000 people.

As such, residents have been poisoned for years from small-scale gold mining. The miners use mercury in their rudimentary smelting process, releasing as much as 1,000 tons of the toxic chemicals into the air each year.

It is even worse for many miners as they get the smell inside their homes too, where the mercury vapors is trapped. The metal can also be released into area waterways, where it can accumulate in fish and water.

As the latest study, concentrations of mercury in the Kahayan River in central Kalimantan are more than twice Indonesia's recommended standard. Therefore, in recent years, the Indonesian government has taken steps to limit synthetic mercury emissions, working with miners to make their smelting process safer.

2. Kabwe, Zambia

  • Major pollutant: Lead

  • Population affected: 300,000

Once Zambia's thriving industrial base Kabwe, located about 150 kilometers from capital city, is one of the most polluted places in the world. It is also one among the six towns in close proximity to the Copperbelt.

The mine and smelter that was once operating in full swing have left a city poisoned by devastating concentrations of lead dust in the soil and by metals in the water.

As per the study, the dispersal in soils of lead, cadmium, copper, and zinc extended over a 20 km radius at levels much higher than those recommended by the World Health Organization.

The high level of lead contamination now affects over 300,000 Kabwe residents, mostly children, says the report. In some places in and around Kabwe, blood concentrations of 200 µg/dl or more have been recorded among children and records show average blood levels of children range between 50 and 100 µg/dl.

3. Hazaribagh, Bangladesh

  • Major pollutant: Mainly chromium

  • Population affected: 160,000

Widely known for its tannery industry, Hazaribagh has been listed as one of the most polluted places on earth. Over 160,000 people have become victims of pollution due to the presence of toxic chemicals, mainly chromium, in Hazaribagh.

In Bangladesh, there are 270 registered tanneries, out of which, around 90-95 percent are located at Hazaribagh on about 25 hectares of land. Most of such tanneries use old, outdated, and inefficient processing methods. 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.

Not just that, the homes of tannery workers in Hazaribagh are built next to contaminated streams, ponds, and canals. Hexavalent chromium is a well-known carcinogen, is not only the main cause of health problems but workers and local residents also face a number of less severe yet more common health problems every day.

4. Dzerzhinsk, Russia

  • Major pollutant: Numerous chemicals and toxic byproducts from numerous

  • chemical-manufacturing processes

A Russian city located along the Oka River, Dzerzhinsk is home to the Soviet Union's principal site for chemical manufacturing including chemical weapons. Because of which it has come up in this list.

Between the year 1930 and 1998, an estimated 300,000 tons of chemical waste were improperly disposed of in and around the city. The water samples taken in this city in 2007 have showed levels of dioxins and phenols that were thousands of times above recommended levels.

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