There are many ways you can classify pollution. It can be chemical, radioactive, or simply the presence of improperly disposed waste products. While some places, like Mexico City, have a very obvious problem with their heavy smog, do not be misled. The much more serene looking Lake Karachay in Russia would have you dead within an hour of sitting on its banks due to heavy radioactive contamination. So, whether the pollution is visible or not, take note because these are the 25 most polluted places on Earth.
La Oroya, Peru
The most recent addition to our list, the small Andean town of La Oroya has been home to a metal smelter run by Missouri based Doe Run Corporation since 1922. As a result nearly all the local children suffer from lead poisoning and respiratory complications. The Peruvian government has even been taken to court for crimes against humanity by various organizations.
This Siberian city houses an even larger smelting complex than La Oroya (it’s actually the largest in the world). Not surprisingly, the pollution here is so bad that the average life expectancy is up to 10 years less than the rest of Russia.
Citarum River, Indonesia
One of the world’s most polluted rivers, over 5 million people reside in its basin and rely on it as their primary water supply.
After years of mining and processing both cadmium and lead are very common in the hills surrounding this Zambian city. In fact, the children here have been found to have 10 times the permissible EPA level of lead in their bloodstream. Moreover, the ground is barren and nothing will grow as a result of the contamination.
Riachuelo Basin, Argentina
Almost synonymous with pollution, the banks of the Riachuelo Basin in Argentina are lined by nearly 4,000 factories, 42 garbage dumps, and 13 slums. Definitely not a good combination when it comes to health and life expectancy.
As one of the largest dumps of radioactive waste in all of Asia, Mailuu-Suu is not only heavily contaminated but there are a series of unstable uranium tailing pits in the hills surrounding the city. Were these pits were to empty the result would be disastrous.
With upwards of a dozen mines operating in the regions without any significant level of regulation, the this Indian city has been listed as one of the most polluted in the world by the Blacksmith Institute.
Long an oil hub, Azerbaijan’s capital suffers from extensive pollution as a result of shipping and drilling.
photo – National Geographic
Although not polluted in the same sense as some of the other places on this list, Rondonia has been subjected to extensive deforestation in recent years and is now one of the most destroyed regions of the Amazon Rainforest.
Mexico City, Mexico
The fact that it is located in a volcanic crater surrounded by mountains only compounds Mexico City’s already troublesome pollution problem by trapping a thick layer of smog that hover over the city.
Whenever you cram 150 million people into an area the size of Bangladesh you are bound to have some waste management issues.c
Not only has the country as a whole been significantly destroyed by natural disasters and deforestation, but on top of all that it has on its hands a severe waste management crisis.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
With a rapidly growing population, Dar es Salaam’s already strained water supply is only going to worsen. Moreover, as solid wastes continues to empty into the Msimbazi River, the prevalence of infectious disease will continue to increase.
With an extremely contaminated water supply, the capital of the Congo has an extensive list of health and sanitation issues knocking at its door and its life expectancy is already one of the lowest in Africa.
If you have read our list on 25 crazy facts about the universe then you know that the Earth is surrounded by nearly 4 million pounds of space debris. The image you see above was actually generated by NASA to show which ones are presently being tracked.
David is the editor-in-chief of List25. He has a Masters degree in International Business from University of Florida. He loves to break dance, do flips, play guitar, and everything else that is fun. Follow him on Twitter @iamdpegg