The Blacksmith Institute in collaboration with Green Cross Switzerland recently evaluated the most dangerous pollution problems we face today. As a result, they put together this top ten list of the most deadliest factors we face:
1. Groundwater Contamination
2. Industrial Mining Activities
3. Metals Smelters and Processing
4. Radioactive Waste and Uranium Mines
5. Untreated Sewage
6. Urban Air Quality
7. Used Lead Acid Battery Recycling
8. Contaminated Surface Water
9. Indoor Air Pollution
10. Artisanal Gold Mining
It is truly troubling to realize that many people have built their homes nearby these major pollutants. The World Health Organization has released numerous reports stating that life expectancy is still below the age of 40 in many countries. Yet there are 16 countries where the citizens can expect to live past 80 years old. Although contributing factors include war and civil strife, one of the biggest factors is disease. Many countries still lack proper sanitation and trash removal, leaving its hungry citizens to dig through polluted waste to find food. The contrast between developing nations and developed nations is far reaching, even though developed countries like the United States are major polluters. Overall there are many factors that contribute to the cleanliness and health of a city. Allow this pictorial list to display the devastating differences between the cities that have put a system in place to deal with pollution and waste and the cities that have relatively little pollution management in effect. Here is the top 10 most polluted cities in the world vs. the top 10 cleanest cities in the world:
1. Linfen, China
Type of Pollution: Coal
Source of Pollution: Industrial and Automotive Emissions
Linfen, China is not only the most-polluted city in China, but also the world. It includes many coal mines. Although legal coal mines create a lot of pollution, it is the city’s illegal coal mines that do the most damage, since they do not follow anti-pollution regulations. The city’s air is constantly soiled with burning coal.
2. Tianying, China
Type of Pollution: Lead and heavy metals
Source of Pollution: Mining and Processing
Tianying accounts for more than 50 percent of China’s total lead production. Because there are not many standards that regulate lead production in China, a lot of lead ends up in the city’s soil and water. Ultimately, the lead ends up in the bloodstream of children. Lead has been shown to decrease IQ in children.
3. Sukinda, India
Type of Pollution: Hexavalent Chromium
Source of Pollution: Chromite Mines
Hexavalent Chromium is a carcinogenic type of steel used for leather tanning. In Sukinda, India, studies show that the drinking water includes more than double the international standard of Hexavalent Chromium. An Indian health group estimates that nearly 85 percent of deaths in mining areas are due to diseases that stem from chromium exposure.
4. Vapi, India
Type of Pollution: Chemicals and metals
Source of Pollution: Industrial estates
Vapi, India might be higher on this list if it weren’t for its slow growth. The city’s groundwater has been found to contain mercury levels almost 100 times higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended amount. Heavy metals can be found in the city’s crops and air.
5. La Oroya, Peru
Type of Pollution: Sulfur dioxide, lead, copper, zinc
Source of Pollution: Metal mining and processing
La Oroya, Peru has the dubious distinction of being a city where 99 percent of children’s lead blood levels that are higher than the acceptable limits. According to the World Health Organization, the lead level is three times the acceptable limit. The lead is likely to stay in the soil for centuries to come.
6. Dzerzhinsk, Russia
Type of Pollution: Chemicals and toxic byproducts, such as sarin and vx gas
Source of Pollution: Chemical Weapon Manufacturing
The Guinness Book of World Records named Dzerzhinsk, Russia as the most chemically polluted city in the world. Nearly 300,000 tons of chemical waste was improperly dumped here between 1930 and 1998. The city’s death rate exceeds its birth rate by 260 percent.
7. Norilsk, Russia
Type of Pollution: Air pollution such as particulates and sulfur dioxide
Source of Pollution: Nickel and Metal Mining and Processing
Norilsk is the location of the world’s largest heavy metal smelting plant. More than four million tons of dangerous chemicals are released into the city’s atmosphere every year. It is difficult to find even a single living tree within 30 miles of the city.
8. Chernobyl, Ukraine
Type of Pollution: Radiation
Source of Pollution: Nuclear meltdown
When the Chernobyl nuclear plant melted down in 1986, it sent 100 times more radiation into the air than the nuclear bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The area is still contaminated and is expected to stay that way for thousands of years. The 20-mile area around Chernobyl remains uninhabitable.
9. Sumgayit, Azerbaijan
Type of Pollution: Organic chemicals, heavy metals and oil
Source of Pollution: Industrial and petrochemical complexes
When the factories in Sumgayit, Azerbaijan were still operational, they released upwards of 12,000 tons of harmful emissions – like mercury – each year. Even though the majority of the factories have closed their doors, the pollution is still there. There is no work to speak of being done to clean up the area.
10. Kabwe, Zambia
Type of Pollution: Cadmium and lead
Source of Pollution: Lead processing and mining
High levels of lead were first discovered in Kabwe, Zambia in 1902, but little has been done to protect citizens since the discovery. Zambian children average between five and ten times more lead concentration in their blood than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows. Approximately $40 million from the World Bank has been allocated to aid in a clean-up project in this area.
The top 10 cleanest cities in the world
1. Calgary, Canada
Calgary, Canada is considered to be the world’s cleanest city. Even though there is a large oil and gas industry in the area, the city features a well-planned out, grid-like structure that reduces traffic congestion. It also features light rail transportation, and transfer stations that sort through garbage and take out biodegradable and recyclable materials.
2. Honolulu, U.S.A.
Honolulu, Hawaii is the highest-ranking city in the United States found on this list. Honolulu has a light manufacturing industry. The American Public Transportation Association has highlighted Honolulu for its transit system, which includes dedicated bus lanes. By promoting bus travel, Honolulu has been able to reduce traffic and exhausts fumes.
3. Helsinki, Finnland
Although Helsinki is a fairly large city with more than 500,000 inhabitants, it has the feel of a much smaller city thanks to the fact that the light rail commuter system is so well used. Helsinki residents take pride in their city and do a lot on their own to make sure the city stays clean. The streets are wide, which makes them less prone to congestion and reduces fumes from cars.
4. Ottawa, Canada
In addition to having a light rail system which reduces traffic, Ottawa also has other programs specifically designed to keep the city clean. For example, Ottowa sponsors a “Spring Cleaning the Capital” program each spring. Between April 15 and May 15 more than 60,000 volunteers come out to clean the city’s parks, roadways, green spaces, and sidewalks.
5. Minneapolis, U.S.A.
Even though Minneapolis is the largest city in Minnesota, the city stays clean thanks to initiatives that have helped residents keep cleanliness a priority. One of the main things that has reduced the amount of the exhaust produced is the use of light rail systems. Additionally, the city promotes bike riding and has several bike riding lanes designated for bikers to use to commute to and from work.
6. Olso, Norway
One of the reasons why Oslo is considered to be one of the cleanest cities in the world is because city developers have taken ingenuity and finding ways to be green. Starting in 2010, city officials will introduce buses that run on by the fuels taken from human waste. It is hoped that this initiative will ultimately provide enough energy for all of the city’s 400 buses.
7. Stockholm, Sweden
In addition to Stockholm having a renowned transportation system that reduces traffic and diesel fuels, the city also has very little heavy industry. This means that much of the city’s economic growth stems from work done that does not harm the environment. Likewise, Stockholm has the largest percentage of clean vehicles in Europe. About 5 percent of all vehicles in Stockholm are hybrids.
8. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich, Switzerland is famous for its efficient and clean public transportation system. The city makes available trains, boats, buses, and streetcars. The variety of mass transit options helps reduce fuels released into the air.
9. Katsuyama, Japan
Katsuyama, Japan is the smallest city included on this list, with a population of just less than 30,000. The city puts a lot of work into keeping the surroundings clean, because it relies on tourism for much of its income. The city sponsors several seasonal festivals which require cleanliness to be enjoyed; therefore the city’s businesses and government leaders put cleanliness high on the list of priorities.
10. Bern, Switzerland
Bern, Switzerland is the second Swiss city on this list. The city relies on its beauty to promote tourism. Because of this, city officials create initiatives to keep the city clean and presentable so that tourists continue to visit be impressed by the city’s cleanliness and return to visit again.