Published On: Jan 14 2013 12:23:54 PM ESTUpdated On: Dec 08 2013 12:55:33 AM EST
Take a look at some of the world's most polluted cities, as ranked and compiled by Time, the Blacksmith Institute and ABC Environment.
Sukinda, India -- India's Sukinda Valley contains 97 percent of the country's chromite ore deposits -- used mainly to make chrome plating and stainless steel. Mining leave toxic chromium hexavalent in the air, soil, and surface and drinking water.
La Oroya, Peru -- In this lead mining town in the Peruvian Andes, 99 percent of children have high levels of lead in their blood largely due to an American-owned smelter that's been polluting the city since 1922, according to Time. The expended lead is expected to remain in the soil for centuries, with no plans to clean it up.
Kasaragod, India -- The organic pesticide endosulfan is now banned in many countries, but 20 years of spraying it over cashew plantation in Kasaragod has taken its toll. Numerous congenital, reproductive and long-term neurological and other effects have been experienced, including congenital deformities, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, lowered IQ, delayed development and cancer, according to ABC Environment.
Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia -- According to ABC Environment, the largest concentration of people at risk from mercury pollution is in Indonesia. In Borneo's Central Kalimantan province, mercury is used to extract gold from ore, a process that is estimated to release 99,000 pounds of mercury into the environment each year.
Dzerzhinsk, Russia -- One of the Soviet Union's major sites for chemical weapons production, the Guinness Book of World Records named Dzerzhinsk the most chemically polluted city on Earth, and in 2003 its death rate exceeded its birth rate by 260 percent.
Chernobyl, Ukraine -- Even nearly 27 years after the nuclear reactor meltdown, a 19-mile area surrounding Chernobyl remains dangerously radioactive and uninhabitable. Between 1992 and 2002, more than 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer cases were diagnosed among Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian children living in the fallout zone, according to Time.
Bhopal, India -- In December 1984, a toxic gas leak at a local pesticide plant that killed nearly 4,000 people outright, rising to 15,000 in the coming week in one of the world's worst industrial disasters. Even now, thousands in Bhopal suffer and die from chronic illnesses largely due to contaminated groundwater.
Kabwe, Zambia -- Rich deposits of lead were found here in 1902, and while most mines and smelters are no longer operating, lead concentrations in children are five to 10 times the permissible U.S. Environmental Protection Agency levels, and can even be high enough to kill, according to Time.
Vapi, India -- Sitting at the southern end of a belt of industrial estates, Vapi is suffering the side effect of rapid industrial growth. Mercury levels in the city's groundwater are 96 times higher than WHO safety levels, and heavy metals fill the air and can be found in local produce, according to Time.
Sumgayit, Azerbaijan -- Another industrial center for the Soviet Union, Sumgayit was home to more than 40 factories producing industrial and agricultural chemicals like detergents and pesticides. Most of the factories have been shut down, but the effects remain. Today cancer rates are 22 to 51 percent higher than the national average, while cancer mortality rates are 8 percent higher.
Norilsk, Russia -- Founded as a Siberian slave labor camp and home to the world's largest heavy metal smelting complex, an estimated 4 million tons of cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, arsenic, selenium and zinc are released into the air each year, according to Time. Mortality from respiratory diseases is much higher than Russia as a whole.