La Oroya, Peru is a mining town in the Peruvian Andes and the site of a poly-metallic smelter since 1922. The area is highly contaminated by mining waste and by dust and acidic fumes from the smelter. Surveys have confirmed high blood lead levels in children and sulfur dioxide levels also exceeded WHO limits.
Unfortunately, it’s notorious for being one of the most polluted areas on earth. The local government has been unable to clean up the pollution caused by the metal smelter in La Oroya. It is the major contributor to the pollution problem. This mining town emits acidic fumes directly from the smelter into the air. Children now have extremely high levels of sulfur dioxide and lead in their blood as a result (Bilaterals).
Many people want to swim in the sea flanking Manila, but unfortunately, the reality is that the sea is extremely polluted by toxic waste from the city. It’s one of the most polluted areas in the world and is full of toxins from house sewage, industrial waste, and commercial establishments that use the sea as a toxic dump.
Locals are attempting to clean up the area and make it less toxic than it already is, even though this feat seems impossible. It’s going to take a lot of effort before the area sees any change or lessening of toxic chemicals. Toxins in Manila have accounted for more than 27,000 deaths. Considering this is entirely preventable, it’s a shame that so many people are suffering from it (2FrenchinManila).
Due to its location, Baghpat is, unfortunately, one of the most polluted places in the world. It’s situated in a spot that’s hit by north-westerly winds carrying stubble smoke. This smoke comes from the paddy fields of Punjab. Additionally, it contributed to 25% of pollution in a recent winter.
Because there hasn’t been any action plans to try and decrease the amount of pollution, its been accumulating over the years and has now reached a crisis level. This is true for many of the cities across India. Unfortunately, Baghpat is just one of them (Hindustan Times).
We’ve seen Delhi on this list as one of the most polluted areas in the world. But Mumbai has also made the list. Mountains of garbage tower along the outskirts of the city. Luckily, the Prime Minister is attempting to tackle this problem and is implementing waste treatment plants. Some of the mountains of garbage tower up to 18 stories high.
Many locals in the area use the garbage waste dumps as scavengers to try and sell products they find. Pollution in Mumbai also stems from overpopulated highways, unpaved dusty roads, burning of garbage, and emissions from local industries (BBC).
The Citarum River in Indonesia is 225 kilometers in length and runs through villages that use it for drinking, washing, cooking, and bathing. Over 25 million people are living in its basin, hence the reason it’s so polluted. The lack of regulations and poor sewage and waste system contributes to the polluted waterways.
Additionally, thousands of waste-producing industries line the river’s waterways, which use it as a dumping system. In addition to this, the river accumulates waste from agricultural factories and fisheries (Austro Indonesia).
Pasig River connects Laguna Bay to Manila Bay. Even though we’ve seen the waterways of Manila as some of the most polluted in the world, the Pasig River also makes the list. Plastic waste flows into the river’s mouth, which is harming locals that live in proximity to the river. Many environmentalists are attempting to clean the river through beach cleanups and brand auditing.
This is an attempt to slow down the heavy waste responsible for a majority of the pollution. This river alone accounts for more than 63,000 tons of plastic entering the ocean every single year. And that’s just one river (Business Mirror).
Another major Indian city makes the list, and this time it’s Kolkata. The Dhapa landfill, located in the city, is facing a crisis of coping with the daily burden of waste from locals in the city. It’s too much to take in, and more waste is being produced than can be dealt with. The only solution is to slow down the waste consumption in the city of Kolkata. Once this happens, the landfill can process what’s already there. The Dhapa has a bit of history behind it since it was created in 1941 under British rule.
A garbage train would travel along the city’s main roads collecting garbage, and then bringing it to the landfill. It is no surprise that the waste in the 40s was much less than the waste we’re seeing today. Today, we’re seeing over 5,000 metric tons of waste every day, with over 4,000 tons of it getting dumped into landfill. It’s also towering at a dangerous height of 50 feet, and at this point is unable to take in any more waste (Swachhindia).
Another area of Ghana, Accra, sees heavy acidic gusts of smoke blowing across the city. It’s home to the Agbogbloshie dump, which we’ve previously seen on this list. But the city of Accra itself is also home to tons of waste and toxic air. Ghana alone is one of the most polluted countries in the world, and a lot of it, unfortunately, comes from e-waste.
Many people living and working in Accra, and Agbogbloshie, see back problems, burns, and infected wounds solely from the pollution they’re constantly surrounding themself with. Luckily, Accra, became the first major African city to join the BreatheLife campaign. Accra is the first pilot city of the Urban Health Initiative, supported by UN Environment’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition. (Bloomberg)