The 7 Most Toxic Places to Live


As the world’s population balloons to almost 7 billion, it’s become more and more difficult to find anywhere on Earth unaffected by man-made pollution and development, and far too often it takes things going really wrong before people take action to keep our planet clean. So here’s a list that might help to motivate: The 15 most polluted places in the world.

Citarum River, Indonesia

The Citarum has been called the world’s most polluted river. Around five million people live in the river’s basin, and most of them rely on its flow for their water supply.


Chernobyl, Ukraine

Chernobyl is the town in northern Ukraine home to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. Once home to more than 14,000 residents, the town remains mostly uninhabited and unsafe today due to extensive radioactive contamination.

CREDIT: Stuck in Customs/Flickr

Linfen, China

Linfen has more air pollution than any other city in the world. Sitting at the heart of China’s coal belt, smog and soot from industrial pollutants and automobiles blacken the air at all hours. It is said that if you hang your laundry here, it will turn black before it dries.

CREDIT: sheilaz413/Flickr

The North Pacific Gyre

An island of trash twice the size of Texas floats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, circulated by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. The trash, which is mostly made up of plastic debris, floats as deep as 30 feet below the surface.


La Oroya, Peru

La Oroya is a soot-covered mining town in the Peruvian Andes. Ninety-nine percent of the children who live here have blood levels that exceed acceptable limits for lead poisoning, which can be directly attributed to an American-owned smelter that has been polluting the city since 1922.

CREDIT: Lakerae/Flickr

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

The Guinness Book of World Records has named Dzerzhinsk the most chemically polluted city on Earth, and in 2003 its death rate exceeded its birth rate by 260 percent. More than 300,000 tons of chemical waste were improperly dumped here between 1930 and 1998.

CREDIT: Spendruleziya/Flickr

Riachuelo Basin, Argentina

The Riachuelo Basin is a waterway whose name is synonymous with pollution. More than 3,500 factories operate along the banks of the river, a landscape that also includes 13 slums, numerous illegal sewage pipes running directly into the river, and 42 open garbage dumps.


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Rose Balcom
Rose Balcom4 years ago

Very depressing article!

aj M.
aj E.4 years ago

I agree. My computer uses far too much energy clicking through articles and wating for them to load. That's not very green.

G A R.
G A R.4 years ago

C2C, can't you put all this on one page instead of making us click through 7 pages????

J.L. A.
JL A.4 years ago

heartbreakingly sad

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson4 years ago

someone should take a look at Flin Flon MB Canada. it's a disgrace.

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold5 years ago

This is what man has done to the beautiful Earth.

Alyssa Riley
Alyssa Riley5 years ago


Sara A.
Renee A.5 years ago


Eileen Novak
Eileen Novak5 years ago

Disturbing. Look what unfettered greed has done.

Avis L.
Avis L.5 years ago

The USA should make the coal mine in Peru adhere to US laws. Of course, we don't make companies in the US adhere to the laws but what is allowed in Peru is despicable! International laws need to be enacted since we are becoming a smaller and smaller planet. The waste in Argentina will find its way into the USA food chain and other areas of life! Does the USA have to do EVERYTHING??? I say YES if no one else will and they don't seem to be!!! There are no "boundaries" that keep it "over there". It comes our way.