Friday, August 30, 2013

World's most toxic places

The Aral Sea, located in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, was one of the world's four largest lakes until the waters that fed it were diverted for Soviet Union irrigation projects. By 2007, the Aral Sea shrank to 10% of its original size and split into four basins.

Toxic chemicals from weapons testing, industrial projects, pesticides, and fertilizer have runoff and been swept by winds into surrounding areas. People nearby not only suffer from lack of fresh water but also cancer, lung disease, digestive disorders, antibiotic resistant tuberculosis, liver, eye, and kidney disorders, and unusually high mortality rates. Salt from the lake is not only toxic but has a higher salinity than sea water, with levels from what remains of the South Aral measured in excess of 100g/L versus sea water salinity of 35 g/L. The huge plains of what used to be the waters of the Aral Sea are now exposed, causing toxic dust storms.
La Oroya is a mining town located in the Peruvian Andes. Since 1922, those living in La Oroya have breathed in toxic emissions and lived in toxic waste created by the poly-metallic smelter plant owned by Doe Run Corporation. La Oroya is home to the world's most critical levels of air pollution and the highest lead blood levels known to any children on the planet. An astronomical 99 percent of the children in La Oroya have blood levels which exceed acceptable limits to qualify for lead poisoning.
Dzerzhinsk is located in Nizhy Novgorod Oblast, Russia along the Oka River, about 250 miles east of Moscow.

Dzerzhinsk is the most chemically polluted place on Earth according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Once Russia's primary chemical weapons production site, Dzerzhinsk is now home to approximately 300,000 tons of chemical waste dumped between 1930 until 1998. The Blacksmith Institute found during a 2007 study that the life expectancy for men is 42 years and 47 years for women, compliments of dioxins, sarin, leeisite, sulfur mustard, hydrogen cyanide, phosgene, lead, phenol, and other chemicals in the air and water of the city. Water tests revealed contaminates were 17 million times higher than levels rendered safe by EPA standards.
The Matanza-Riachuelo River in Argentina is 64 kilometers long and home to 3.5 million people. The Matanza is filled with illegal sewage pipes draining directly into the river. Additionally, along Mantanza-Riachuelo's banks are 13 slums and 42 open garbage dumps. Residents and tourists have reported strong odors released from chemical residue and methane gas emitting from the River.
The Kabwe is a mine located in Zambia. Kabwe has long been rendered one of the most toxic places on Earth. Originally a large mining complex, now Kabwe is a barren mess. Once all of the lead, zinc, silver, manganese, cadmium, vanadium, and titanium were extracted, the Blacksmith Institute found Broken Hill to be more than broken. Heavy metal tailings from the mine, primarily zinc and lead, found their way into water supplies, affecting nearly 210,000 people. Additionally, lead and cadmium have been absorbed in areas around the mine, rendering the ground unusable for crops. Blood level lead concentrations in children of Kabwe are up to ten times U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Karachay is a small lake in the Ural mountains in Western Russia. It is home to a nuclear waste dumping site so radioactive it has been declared the most polluted place on the planet. During the early 1950s, the Soviet Union began dumping radioactive waste from Mayak, a nuclear waste storage and reprocessing facility in Ozyorsk, into Lake Karachay. Many years later, the Worldwatch Institute on nuclear waste rendered the area "the most polluted spot on Earth." Radiation levels at the lake are so high that one hour of exposure is considered lethal. The accumulated levels of radioactivity are around 4.44 exabequerels (EBq) with 3.6 EBq of Caesium-137 and 0.74 EBq of Strontium-90. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster released between 5 to 12 Ebq of unconcentrated radioactivity.