MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining and metals' sites loom high among "world''s worst places"

Published by MAC on 2007-09-14

Mining and metals' sites loom high among "world''s worst places"

14th September 2007

The respected Blacksmith Institute last week published its 2008 report of the world’s “ten most polluted places.”

Its conclusions have gained headlines in much of the global press. Although the report recognises that remediation work at some sites listed a year ago has led to improvements, much of this is marginal or only just beginning to register. Some 2006 targeted sites have moved down, but still remain on the Institute's roll of the world’s worst thirty.

Once again, what stands out in the data is the degree to which mining and metals-related operations – primarily in China, India and Africa - contribute to a toll that, according to Blacksmith, potentially or actually endangers the well being of 40 million- plus people across the globe.

Three minerals operations listed in 2006 – La Oroya (Peru), Norilsk (Russia) and Kabwe (Zambia) – remain among the top ten worst sites for the second year running.

To access the complete report, go to:

World's 10 Most Polluted Places


14th September 2007

Russia and two former Soviet republics have four of the world's top 10 most polluted places, according to the Blacksmith Institute, a New York-based nonprofit group.

Blacksmith did not rank the top 10 because complete health records from some developing countries were unavailable. For each site the group included the number of potentially affected people, who could face problems ranging from asthma to premature death.

The annual list was compiled with help from specialists at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Hunter College in New York, India's ITT, University of Idaho, Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York and others. The full report can be found at

Below are the worst polluted places listed alphabetically:

Sumgayit, Azerbaijan

- Potentially affected people: 275,000

- Pollutants: Heavy metals, organic chemicals

- Sources: Petrochemical and industrial complexes

Linfen, China

- Potentially affected people: 3,000,000

- Pollutants: Fly-ash, volatile organic compounds, lead

- Sources: Car and industrial emissions from coal industry

Tianying, China

- Potentially affected people: 140,000

- Pollutants: Lead and heavy metals

- Sources: Mining and processing

Sukinda, India

- Potentially affected people: 2,600,000

- Pollutants: Hexavalent chromium

- Sources: Chromite mines

Vapi, India

- Potentially affected people: 71,000

- Pollutants: Chemicals and heavy metals

- Sources: Industrial estates

La Oroya, Peru

- Potentially affected people: 35,000

- Pollutants: Lead, copper, zinc

- Sources: Heavy metal mining

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

- Potentially affected people: 300,000

- Pollutants: Sarin, lead, phenols

- Sources: Cold War-era chemical weapons, manufacturing

Norilsk, Russia

- Potentially Affected People: 134,000

- Pollutants: Heavy metals, phenols

- Sources: Nickel mining

Chernobyl, Ukraine

- Potentially affected people: 5.5 million

- Pollutants: Radioactive dust including uranium, other metals

- Sources: Nuclear meltdown of reactor core in 1986

Kabwe, Zambia

- Potentially affected people: 255,000

- Pollutants: Lead, cadmium

- Sources: Lead mining and processing



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