Top Ten Most Polluted Places in the World, 2006

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

This Top Ten list was compiled by the Technical Advisory Board of the Blacksmith Institute, an environmental NGO based in New York. The criteria used in ranking the include the size of the affected population, the severity of the toxins involved, and reliable evidence of health problems associated with the pollution.

  • Chernobyl, Ukraine
    The world's worst nuclear disaster took place on April 26, 1986.
  • Dzerzhinsk, Russia
    A major Russian chemical manufacturing center, which produced Sarin and other deadly poisons during the cold war. Between 1930-1998, nearly 300,000 tons of chemical waste were improperly disposed of.
  • Haina, Dominican Republic
    An urban area severely contaminated with lead from a now defunct automobile battery recycling plant.
  • Kabwe, Zambia
    The country's second largest city is severely contaminated with lead from the mining industry.
  • La Oroya, Peru
    Lead, copper, zinc, and sulfur dioxide from mining have contaminative the town.
  • Linfen, China
    Severe air and water pollution from the coal, steel, and tar industries.
  • Maiuu Suu, Kyrgyzstan
    This former Soviet uranium plant town is saturated with radioactive uranium mine tailings.
  • Norilsk, Russia
    An industrial city in Siberia founded in 1935 as a slave labor camp, Norilsk is home of the world's largest heavy metals smelting complex and is plagued by severe air pollution. 9
  • Ranipet, India
    About 1,500,000 tons of tannery waste has accumulated in this town over the past two decades.
  • Rudnaya Pristan/Dalnegorsk, Russia
    Severe lead contamination from an old smelter as well as the the unsafe transport of lead concentrate from the local lead mining site.
Source: the Blacksmith Institute, 2006.


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