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article imageThe World's Most Polluted Areas According To Blacksmith

By KJ Mullins     Dec 2, 2007 in Environment
While pollution is a problem in North America it's nothing compared to parts of the world where life expectancy rates are par to those of medieval times. Blacksmith Institute released their listing of the most polluted areas earlier this fall.
Pollution is part of the reason that birth defects in these areas are the norm, Where children who are not asthmatic are the exception.
"In some towns, life expectancy approaches medieval rates, and birth defects are the norm, not the exception," according to the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute, which compiled the list earlier this fall. "In others, children's asthma rates are measured above 90%, and mental retardation is endemic."
In Toronto today a blanket of white snow coats the soil. In Norilsk, Russia there is snow forecast for tonight. The fluffy flakes that land most likely be black with pollution though.
Norilsk is home to the world's largest heavy-metals smelting complex. The factory releases almost 500 tonnes of copper and nickle oxides into the air. The sulfar dioxide that is released is at 2 million tonnes. Those that work at the factory die on average 10 years earlier than their comrades in Moscow. The company has pledged to work on improving the polluted conditions with the help of Blacksmith.
In Linfen, China where 3 million people live the air is so heavy with coal dust people choke on it in the evenings.
If you are visiting Sukinda, India don't drink the water. 70% of the surface water and 60% of the drinking water contains hexavalent chromium. The chemical causes cancer. The city has double the nation standards of cancer patients.
The water in Dzerzhinsk, Russia isn't safe either. At one time the town was the center of Soviet chemical weapon production and home to a leaded gasoline plant. The chemical waste that were produced in these facilities seeped into the ground water. There are 190 identified chemicals floating in the water now.
The ten most polluted areas in the world at this time are:
Summit, Azerbaijan in the Soviet Union. Cancer rates in Summit are 22% to 51% higher than average incidence rates in the rest of the country.
Lin-fen in China. China's State Environmental Protection Administration says Lin-fen has the worst air quality in the country.
Tianjin in China. Tianjin accounts for half the country's total lead production. Concentrations in air and soils were, respectively, 8.5 times and 10 times national health standards.
Sukinda in India. Seventy percent of the area's surface water and 60% of the drinking water contain covalent chromium at more than double national and international standards.
Vapi in India. Due to production of petrochemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, textiles, dyes, fertilizers, leather products, paint and chlor-alkali, mercury in Vapi's groundwater is reported to be 96 times higher than the World Health Organization's health standards. In addition, local produce can contain up to 60 times more heavy metals (copper, chromium, cadmium, zinc, nickel, lead, iron) than non-contaminated produce in control groups.
La Oroya in Peru. Ninety-nine percent of children living in and around La Oroya have blood lead levels that exceed acceptable limits, according to Peruvian official.
Dzerzinsk in Russia. Almost 300,000 tons of chemical waste were improperly disposed of between 1930 and 1998. The Guinness Book of World Records calls Dzerzhinsk the most chemically polluted city in the world.
Norilsk in Russia. Reports say the snow is black, the air tastes of sulfur and the life expectancy for factory workers is 10 years below the Russian average.
Chernobyl in Ukraine. A fiery meltdown of the Chernobyl reactor's core released 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Twenty years later, the 19-mile exclusion zone around the plant remains uninhabitable.
Kabwe in Zambia. On average, children's blood lead levels in Kabwe are five to 10 times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's permissible maximum and in many cases are close to those regarded as potentially fatal.
Blacksmith has been cataloging the most polluted areas of the world since 2006. The focus of these listings is on human health with a special emphasis on child heath and poisonous effects that these pollutants have.
According to the founder of Blacksmith Richard Fuller for less than $1 billion dollars you can significantly mitigate the unhealthy effects of all the worst places across the globe. He gives some simple fixes such as digging up the toxic materials and moving them away from people. Another cheap solution for contaminated water would be to inject a sugary mixture into the water supply that is effected by hexavalent chromium. The mixture will make it less toxic and less able to mobilize underground.
"If you spend 10% of the money, you deal with 90% of the problem," he says. "The fact of the matter is that children are sick and dying in these polluted places. And it's not rocket science to fix them."
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