If you’ve ever lived with a roommate or had kids in the house then you know what it’s like when someone doesn’t take care of your home. That is sort of how humanity has treated the Earth in our relatively short stay on the planet so far. Humans are the #1 threat to harmony on Earth and a healthy planet. We pollute with trash, fumes, and dangerous chemicals without much thought to tomorrow. Rather than expounding on pollution as a whole we decided to break down the pollution where it hits us hardest: in certain big cities. So listed below are 12 of the most polluted places on the face of the planet. You’ll see a range of common factors in each of these places. Read on and grow wary for our planet!

Norilsk, Russia

The burden of industry has taken its toll on the residents of the Siberian city of Norilsk. Norislk has the largest smelting complex in the world and as such there is so much pollution in the air that it has become a very real, daily threat to the citizens of the area. As a matter of fact the extent of the pollution has gotten so bad that residents can expect their average life span to be reduced up to 10 years simply by living in Norislk. We believe that the government here could use a few project management courses to pull their city back up to snuff. Norislk is located right above the Arctic Circle and has a population of 175,365 people as of the latest public census.

Norilsk, Russia

Norilsk, Russia

Kabwe, Zambia

Kabwe is the capital city of the Zambian Central Province and the city has a population of over 200,000 people. This town used to be named Broken Hill and was founded in 1902 thanks to the large amouny of lead and zinc deposits located in the area. Kabwe continues to be a center for transportation and mining, being centrally located, and these factors are taking its toll on the natural environment surrounding the living residents. Kabwe children have up to 10 times as much lead in their bloodstream as the maximum allowable level as set by the EPA. Contamination from mining ventures is so bad that the ground around the city is completely barren — nothing will grow.

Kabwe, Zambia

Kabwe, Zambia

Sukinda, India

You can’t be one of the most populated countries on the planet and not make the list of polluted locations. Unfortunately people and pollution correlate 1:1 and thus we see Sukinda, India make our list. Sukinda has over a dozen mines in their region and they operate with little to no government regulation or oversight. The Blacksmith Institute of New York lists Sukinda as one of the most polluted places on the planet.

Sukinda, India

Sukinda, India

Port au Prince, Haiti

Haiti just can’t get it together for a variety of reasons. From a corrupt government all the way to the hotbed activity of natural disasters, Haiti seems doomed from the start. Lax waste management regulations has led to a crisis that is threatening to run Port au Prince residents out of their own city and eventually their own country. Pollution is so bad that you can barely walk the streets of Port au Prince without stepping over garbage heaps.

Port au Prince, Haiti

Port au Prince, Haiti

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

We don’t suggest trying to pronounce Dzerzhinski out loud but what we can tell you should suffice: this is the most polluted city in the world in terms of chemicals. The average life expectancy of city residents sits at 45 years and now the mortality rate, due to disease, is outpacing the birth rate. If you need to go on vacation we can easily suggest skipping this place.

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

Mexico City, Mexico

There are plenty of problems to point at in Mexico City and we tend to think that they all string together. Government corruption likely leads in relaxed regulation on factory emissions and general pollution. Mexico City is located in a volcanic crater and ringed by mountains on almost all sounds. This creates a hot basin of pollution that leaves a layer of smog trapped and hovering over the city. If you are going for a visit don’t feel ashamed to take a breathing mask with you.

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico

Earth’s Outer Orbit

You need to look off of the surface of our planet to get a feel for how much we have polluted the Earth. Right now, trapped in Earth’s orbit, there is over 4 million pounds of garbage and debris from space. A ton of that garbage comes from the various space programs on Earth. Pretty wild to think that we have an almost visible ring of trash surrounding the only known inhabitable planet in existence. Makes you feel…small.

Earth's Outer Orbit

Earth’s Outer Orbit

Riachuelo Basin, Argentina

If you enjoy a nice clean river to kayak or fish in then the sight of the Riachuelo Basin will make your blood boil. This basin, located through Argentina, has over 4,000 factories, 40 dumps, and 10 slums bordering its water. As a result trash is offloaded into the river in quantities that will turn your stomach and make your face flush with embarrassment for humanity. With all of the pollution in the basin resulting health and life expectancy of nearby citizens has begun to plummet. There is little that can be done unless the government comes in and steps on the outright pollution here. If car insurance companies took care of health insurance in Argentina then you would be hard pressed to get either.

Riachuelo Basin, Argentina

Riachuelo Basin, Argentina

Tianying, China

Let’s talk some more about China and the issues that they face with both chemical and toxic pollution. Tianying is located in the Anhui Province of Northwestern China and it has a population of 26,000 people. The majority of these individuals are involved with the lead production in Tianying. Tianying is responsible for producing nearly half of China’s lead and despite this fact they are still using old, outdated technology and safe disposal practices. The result? Tianying is ranked up with another Chinese city as the most polluted cities on Earth. There are substantial cases of lead poisoning from within the town’s residents and the Chinese government has been forced to step in. Since Tianying went viral for their lead poisoning the Chinese government has shut down several lead factories. Still, problems persist and as of 2007 we still saw the small town making the news for pollution.

Tianying, China

Tianying, China

Chernobyl, Ukraine

Do we really need to take an online college course to understand why Chernobyl makes our list of most polluted locations on the planet? Well if you’ve managed to skip this lesson while earning your online college degrees then here goes: Chernobyl, Ukraine is home to the worst nuclear accident in the history of our planet. The accident occurred back in 1986 and today remains uninhabited due to the continuation of nuclear radiation and fallout. In order to go near the disaster sight you have to pass several safety checkpoints and you have to be enclosed in a protective RAD suit while equipped with a radiation detector. To say that this place is polluted almost seems to dismiss the devastating reality of the accident. The recent tsunami and resulting earthquakes in Japan, which also damaged a nuclear reactor located in Fukushima, are the closest we’ve had to another Chernobyl since 1986. Really makes you rethink nuclear technology, doesn’t it?

Chernobyl, Ukraine

Chernobyl, Ukraine

Linfen, China

Sadly the proclivity for Chinese cities to make this list is not very surprising. China has a tenuous grasp at best when it comes to climate control and emissions control and their rate of pollution has gotten so bad that airborne smog has become an issue at all hours. Linfen, China is so bad that you can no longer hang your clothing out to dry. If you leave damp or wet clothing outside then you will find it to be completely black from pollution before you have the chance to pull it back in. Linfen has slowly seen some improvement and that is why they don’t rank #1 on our list of polluted locations. At one point in time Linfen had the dishonor of being the most polluted city in the entire world. For reference Linfen has a population of over 4.3 million people as of the latest census at the time of this writing.

Linfen, China

Linfen, China

North Pacific Gyre

Readers beware for the following fact may make you weep for the world’s ocean. We’ve all heard the horror stories of islands made of trash floating around the ocean but for the most part these carry with them some form of exaggeration. No, there aren’t Texas sized trash islands floating around in the ocean. There is, however, quite a bit of trash that does indeed band together and get trapped in certain parts of the sea and that’s what brings us to the North Pacific Gyre. The North Pacific Gyre is a location in the ocean that is also called the Pacific Trash Vortex. This segment of the ocean is filled with rotating currents that suck in harmful trash, toxins, chemical sludge and more. While you can’t see this mess of waste and pollution from a satellite you can rest ill at ease knowing that it is still just as damaging as any floating island myth might actually be. With a rash of ocean animals dying off and still others coming up with strange diseases and malformations it only stands to reason that our treatment of the Earth’s ocean has something to do with it.

North Pacific Gyre

North Pacific Gyre

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