New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) Six of the earth's most polluted cities are in Asia: three in Russia and one each in India, China and Kyrgyzstan, the US-based Blacksmith Institute says in a report it recently released. The other four are in the Dominican Republic, Peru, Zambia and the Ukraine. Tellingly, large western cities are absent from the list.
The report indicates that in Ranipet, India's fourth largest urban area, 3.5 million people are affected by the pollution. A local factory manufactures sodium chromate, chromium salts and basic chromium sulphate tanning powder used locally in the leather tanning process.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board estimates that about 1,500,000 tons of solid wastes accumulated over two decades of plant operation are stacked in an open yard (three to five meters high and on 2 hectares of land) on the facility premises where it is contaminating the groundwater.
As for the Chinese city of Linfen, when asked to comment on its environmental conditions, one environmental expert quipped: "If you have a grudge against someone, let this guy become a permanent citizen of Linfen! Why? For punishment!"
Shanxi Province (where Linfen is located) is considered to be the heart of China's enormous and expanding coal industry, providing about two thirds of the nation's energy. Linfen has been identified as one of Shanxi's most polluted cities with residents claiming that they literally choke on coal dust in the evenings.
In Russia's Dzerzhinsk, a former Cold War-era centre for making chemical weapons, including Sarin and mustard gas, the average life expectancy is 42 for men and 47 for women. Chemicals from weapons manufacturing were dumped into an aquifer that also provides the local community with drinking water.
Blacksmith Institute's Ten-Most-Polluted Places on earth for 2006 are (in alphabetical order by country):
Linfen, China; Haina, Dominican Republic; Ranipet, India; Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan; La Oroya, Peru; Dzerzinsk, Russia; Norilsk, Russia; Rudnaya Pristan, Russia; Chernobyl, Ukraine; and Kabwe, Zambia.