The most toxic places on Earth

Silvia Mutis

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Yamuna River, India

The Yamuna is the largest tributary of the Ganges River in northern India, originating from the Yamunotri Glacier, crossing several states: Uttarakhand, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and passing by Himachal Pradesh and later Delhi, to eventually merge with the Ganges at Triveni Sangam, Allahabad the site for the Kumbha Mela every twelve years.

Nearly 57 million people depend on the murky, sewage-filled waters for washing, waste disposal and drinking waters of Yamuna River.

Citarum River, Indonesia

The Citarum or Citarum Walungan Citarum is a river in West Java, Indonesia and has been called the world’s most polluted river; in 2008 the Asian Development Bank approved a $500 million loan for cleaning up the river. The waters of this river are used mainly in industry, agriculture, for water supplies and sewerage and it had been constantly been polluted by human activity considering the fact that almost five million people live in the basin of the river.

Chernobyl, Ukraine

Chernobyl, once home to more than 14,000 residents, is today the largest ghost town in the world after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. It is located northern Ukraine, in Kiev Oblast Province, near the border with Belarus and used to be the administrative center of the Chernobyl Raion since 1932. The area is still considered a dangerous place due to extensive radioactive contamination.

Linfen, China

Linfen is a prefecture-level city in southern Shanxi province, People’s Republic of China, also known as Pingyang during the Spring and Autumn Period, along the banks of the Fen River. It was known as the most toxic city in the world, having more air pollution than any other city in the world due to its location in the center of China’s coal belt; the soot and smog from the industrial pollutants are not the only elements that blacken the air for hours but also the automobiles. It is said that if you hang your laundry outside, before it even dries it will turn black.

The North Pacific Gyre

The North Pacific Gyre is one of the five major oceanic gyres and is located in the northern Pacific Ocean, between the equator and 50º N latitude and having approximately 20 million square kilometers and an island of trash twice the size of Texas floating on its surface. The trash is mostly made up of plastic debris and floats as deep as 30 feet below the surface and according to a study of marine debris conducted by the Southern California Water Research Project, almost 334,271 pieces of plastic per square kilometer with a weight of 5.1 kilograms per square kilometer were found in this water area. May I remind you that the Pacific Ocean is the largest ecosystem on our planet?

Rondônia, Brazil

Rondônia is a state in northwest Brazil and the capital of Porto Velho, to the west having a short border with the state of Acre, in the south is Bolivia, in the east is Mato Grosso and to the north is the state of Amazonas. Rondônia is one of the most deforested regions of the Amazon rain forest with about three-fifths of the state being deforested since intensive settlement and logging began in the 1970s and continuing to this day. Two thirds of its area is covered by the Amazon Rainforest but this region is also a main exporter of wood and cattle breeder.

La Oroya, Peru

La Oroya is the capital of the Yauli Province but also a city of about 33,000 people and a soot-covered mining town in the Peruvian Andes, located on the River Mantaro in central Peru, 176 km east-north-east of Lima, the national capital. La Oroya is the location of the American-owned smelter that has been polluting the city since 1922 and because of this smelting operation the town earned a place on the Blacksmith Institute‘s 2007 report, “The World’s Worst Polluted Places”; as a result, almost ninety-nine percent of the children who live here have blood levels that exceed acceptable limits for lead poisoning.

Lake Karachay, Russia

Lake Karachay is a small lake in the southern Ural Mountains, in western Russia and according to a report by the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute on nuclear waste, Karachay is the most polluted spot on Earth being used by the Soviet Union since 1951 as a nuclear dumping site from the nearby nuclear waste storage and reprocessing facility, the Mayak, located near the town of Ozyorsk. The air around this site is so toxic and the radiation level is so high that after just on hour of exposure you can receive a lethal dose.

Haiti

Believe it or not but Haiti was a country with an area of almost 60 percent covered in forest but today only 2 percent of the 60 percentage remain and has standing trees, the rest being cleared of almost every tree up to its borders.

Kabwe, Zambia

Kabwe is the capital of the Zambian Central Province, formerly known as Broken Hill and founded when the zinc and lead deposits were discovered in 1902. Today, the intense activities of mining and processing lasting for decades left behind only the hills soaked in lead and cadmium and an affected population with children that have lead concentrations five to 10 times the permissible U.S. Environmental Protection Agency levels and a contaminated ground that doesn’t allow the growth of any plant.

Appalachia, West Virginia

Mountaintop removal mining most associated with coal mining in West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains and is considered as is one of the world’s most environmentally destructive practices, by increasing the erosion and runoff thick with pollutants, poisoning streams and rivers throughout the region with the sole purpose of extracting the existing coal.

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

Dzerzhinsk is a city in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russia, situated along the Oka River, about 400 kilometers (249 mi) east of Moscow and according to a study made by the Blacksmith Institute from United States, dating from September 12, 2007, this is one of the worst polluted cities of the world and has a life expectancy of 42 years for men and 47 for women, with the 2003 death rate exceeding its birth rate by 260%. Between 1930 and 1998 more than 300,000 tons of chemical waste were improperly dumped here and some parts of Dzerzhinsk’s water are contaminated with dioxins and phenol at levels that are reportedly seventeen million times the safe limit. Modern-day Dzerzhinsk is a large centre of the Russian chemicals production industry and until recently until recently it was officially closed to foreign visitors due to its strategic significance.

Riachuelo Basin, Argentina

The Riachuelo Basin is a waterway who has more than 3,500 factories operating along the banks of the river, including 13 slums, numerous illegal sewage pipes running directly into the river and 42 open garbage dumps.

Vapi, India

Vapi is a city sitting at the southern end of a 400-kilometer-long belt of industrial estates and a municipality in Valsad district in the Indian state of Gujarat, located on the banks of Damanganga River, being a dumping place for chemicals of every kind. The heavy metals are present in the air and the local produce and the levels of mercury in the groundwater are 96 times higher than safety levels.

If you are intrigued about how these people live in such toxic places than figure this out: an estimated 4 million pounds of space debris, with nuts, bolts, metal, carbon and even spacecrafts orbit the Earth and threaten the communication, the lives of our space explorers and satellites.11

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One Response to The most toxic places on Earth

  1. Natahn says:

    Why do we ignore these negative activities? It is clearly madness to allow these sorts of practices to continue and obvious that the world does not have infinite capacity to dilute and contain these sinister substances. Although we are suffering to some degree (dioxins, increased radionuclides as well as all the examples shown in this article) it is our children who will bear the brunt of a largely degraded and dying planet. Global warming pales to insignificance when we see the other types of damage that are accumulating on our precious planet. It is so very selfish of us to continue down this dead end and only shows how flawed we are as a species.