Environmental Pollution
World's 10 Most Polluted Places

By Charles Q. Choi,
October 18, 2006

The kinds of pollution in these areas not only lead to cancers, birth defects,
mental retardation and life expectancies approaching medieval levels, but are
also often found all around the globe.

"They cause an enormous amount of misery and harm, especially to children,"
Richard Fuller, founder and director of the Blacksmith Institute, the New
York-based environmental group who released a report on these areas today, told

The Top 10 most polluted places for 2006, in alphabetical order by country:

Linfen, China, where residents say they literally choke on coal dust in the
evenings, exemplifies many Chinese cities;

Haina, Dominican Republic, has severe lead contamination because of lead battery
recycling, a problem common throughout poorer countries;

Ranipet, India, where leather tanning wastes contaminate groundwater with
hexavalent chromium, made famous by Erin Brockovich, resulting in water that
apparently stings like an insect bite;

Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan, home to nearly 2 million cubic meters of radioactive
mining waste that threatens the entire Ferghana valley, one of the most fertile
and densely populated areas in Central Asia that also experiences high rates of
seismic activity;

La Oroya, Peru, where the metal processing plant, owned by the Missouri-based
Doe Run Corporation, leads to toxic emissions of lead;

Dzerzinsk, Russia, one of the country's principal chemical weapons manufacturing
sites until the end of the Cold War;

Norilsk, Russia, which houses the world's largest heavy metals smelting complex;

Rudnaya Pristan, Russia, where lead contamination resulted in child blood lead
levels eight to 20 times maximum allowable U.S. levels;

Chernobyl, Ukraine, infamous site of a nuclear meltdown 20 years ago; and
Kabwe, Zambia, where child blood levels of lead are five to 10 times the
allowable EPA maximum.

The research team analyzed 35 polluted sites, narrowed down from more than 300
nominated by local communities, non-governmental organizations and local,
national and international environmental authorities. The team was made up of
international environment and health experts, including faculty members from
Johns Hopkins and Mt. Sinai Medical Center serving on the technical advisory
board of the Blacksmith Institute.

Fuller said the institute is currently working with national and international
organizations to help clean up six of these sites.


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