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.