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The 10 Most Polluted Places in the World

Posted on 10th January 2018

Pollution, whether it’s affecting air or water, is a topic many people are talking about. With a growing population and industry demands increasing, pollution in many forms is rising rapidly in certain parts of the world. Pollution often comes in the form of harmful particles and contaminates, which then can be airborne, waterborne, or leach into soil and the local environment. Depending on the level of severity, it can pose a serious risk to human health and the environment.

While pollution is an issue on a global scale, there are some parts of the world that have been hit harder than most. Find out about 10 of the most polluted places around the world:

  1. Norilsk, Russia
    This town sits within the arctic circle within Russia, and is home to the world’s largest smelting plant of heavy metals such as nickel, platinum, and copper. The city suffers heavily from sulphur dioxide pollution as a result of the smelting plants, which surround the city, making pollution difficult to disperse from the air. Some effects of the pollution include black or red snow, as well as many residents suffering from respiratory conditions and shorter life expectancy.
  2. Kalimantan, Indonesia
    Gold mining is the primary reason for high levels of pollution in Kalimantan, as small ‘artisan’ gold miners use the dangerous element mercury to extract gold, resulting in high levels of pollution as it is burned off, releasing vapours. Mercury is highly poisonous, and due to the extensive mining, it is reported that the mercury levels in the fish and water in Kalimantan are extremely high and dangerous.
  3. Agbogbloshie, Ghana
    Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the main reason for the generation of intense air pollution in this African city. Dumped in huge amounts, the e-waste contains valuable elements such as copper, but these are housed within plastic shells. To reach the metal, the plastic is burned off through the use of available fuels, like polystyrene, which releases lead into the air, along with other dangerous chemicals as a result of burning plastic.
  4. Chernobyl, Ukraine

    Pripyat, near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

    To date, the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl is still the greatest nuclear disaster in history. The meltdown of the nuclear reactor core in 1986 has resulted in many deaths and illnesses due to the huge amount of radiation and radioactive material dispersed in the environment. There is a 19-mile exclusion zone around the site, and visitors are only allowed to stay for limited amounts of time.

  5. Linfen, China
    Sitting in the Shanxi province of China, Linfen was the site of the country’s huge coal industry. Extensive coal mining and burning was causing huge levels of sulphur dioxide and lead to be released into the atmosphere. Luckily in recent years local authorities have made a distinct effort to encourage factories to shut down and the introduction of solar energy options.
  6. Sukinda, India
    The site of several chromite mining operations, Sukinda’s many factories have become notorious for producing and dumping high levels of the toxic hexavalent chromium which has now leached into water sources. Waste rock and water has been regularly dumped and has resulted in high levels of respiratory diseases among the local population.
  7. La Oroya, Peru
    Nestled in the Andean mountains, La Oroya is home to a huge metal smelting facility of copper. Much as in Norilsk, high levels of sulphur dioxide and lead have polluted air and water sources and have caused health problems for residents, with children particularly affected.
  8. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    The largest city in Saudi Arabia suffers from a combination of pollutants, both manmade and natural. Due to its desert location, Riyadh frequently suffers from sand and dust storms, as well as high levels of emissions from domestic and industrial applications. Such a combination often results in dangerous air quality conditions.
  9. Lake Karachay, Russia
    This Russian lake can hardly be called as such now, having been completely infilled in recent years to help stop the release of radioactive materials. Lake Karachay was used as a dumping ground for nuclear waste during the production years of the Soviet Union and consequently the water became extremely polluted and posed a real danger to health. Sitting on the shore of this lake for no more than one hour and you would absorb a level of radiation so high it is lethal.
  10. Citarum River, Indonesia
    The longest river on the island of Indonesia has been subject to intense pollution as a result of rapid industrial and population growth. The river, which supports more than 30 million people, is clogged with plastic waste and dumped factory chemicals, making it one of the most polluted water sources in the world.

At Parsons, our work in providing wet chemical scrubbers and toxic exhaust systems is designed to help reduce the levels of pollution created by many different industries, including: chemical production, pharmaceutical industries, electronics production, and metal refineries.

In 2016 we installed a bespoke turn-key packed column absorption system on a copper mine in Zambia to reduce NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) pollution to the atmosphere, creating a safer environment for workers and management alike. You can read more about this case study here: http://parsonsuk.com/case-study/mining-in-zambia/

Environmental issues are something we’ve been focused on since 1977, and they remain as important as ever today. If you’re dealing with pollutants, speak to the expert team at Parsons today. We can help devise a solution to cut down on air pollution levels and improve conditions. http://parsonsuk.com/contact/

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/sep/15/norilsk-red-river-russias-most-polluted-city-clean

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9631216/Linfen-how-Chinas-Chernobyl-turned-the-corner.html

https://www.livescience.com/30353-most-polluted-places-earth.html

https://list25.com/the-25-most-polluted-places-on-earth/

https://www.fastcompany.com/3021425/the-10-most-polluted-places-in-the-world

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8663878/Top-10-most-polluted-places-in-the-world.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/10761077/Citarum-the-most-polluted-river-in-the-world.html

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