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Top Ten Polluted Places on the Planet


Ok, we admit it. We’re suckers for a top-ten list. Doesn’t matter if it’s a compilation of baby names, Letterman’s countdown, or the best bottled water, we’ll read it. And probably send it to our friends.

But the Blackwell Institute, with some help from international scientists and environmental groups, put together a list that is actually worth looking at: the 10 most polluted places in the world. The institute is currently starting remediation programs in about half of the sites, which span the globe, and hope to spur action in the others. The main sources of pollution are heavy metals, such as lead.

Chernobyl, Ukraine, site of the notorious nuclear meltdown, tops the list.

  • Chernobyl, Ukraine
  • Dzerzhinsk, Russia
  • Haina, Dominican Republic
  • Kabwe, Zambia
  • La Oroya, Peru
  • Linfen, China
  • Maiuu Suu, Kyrgyzstan
  • Norilsk, Russia
  • Ranipet, India
  • Rudnaya Pristan/Dalnegorsk, Russia

The U.S. didn’t place in the top ten, but our nation did get an honorable mention of sorts. Two sites—New Orleans and Hanford, Washington—appeared in a list of 25 sites that the institute believes require swift action. It’s not exactly a category in which you’d want to be a world leader.