Pollution is a major concern all across the world with some places being more polluted than the others. Several millions of people across the world are afflicted by pollution as pollution often leads to a variety of life threatening diseases such as cancers and other issues such as mental retardation, birth defects, and even a sharp decline in the life expectancy. No, these are not areas that you might have ever heard of. What’s surprising is that some of these places are almost never discussed or even visited even within their own countries. Here’s the list of the 10 most polluted places in the world in no particular order.

Linfen, China

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Linfen city is one of the most polluted places situated in the Shanxi province in China. As this province is in the heart of China’s coal belt, the air in Linfen is filled with burning coal. Illegal and legal mining, the local coal industry and the growing automobile emissions have resulted in the poor quality of air in this city to such an extent that there have been cases where residents choke on coal dust especially in the evenings.  Linfen has managed to hold the title of “Most polluted place in the world” for several years now. Lung cancer and skin diseases are rampant at Linfen.

Kabwe, Zambia

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Rich deposits of lead was discovered in Kabwe way back in 1902 and this has resulted in the city becoming one of the most polluted places in the world due to the lack of contamination preventive measures. Several decades of unregulated mining has resulted in high levels of lead contamination in the residents of Kabwe. Even though the smelters and mines are no longer operational the water contamination due to the metals and soil contamination due to lead dust are high enough to kill people.

Chernobyl, Ukraine

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Everyone knows of the Chernobyl disaster that took place back in 1986, which caused the nuclear plant to release radiation that was 100 times more than the permissible limit into the air. Even till this day respiratory illnesses, thyroid cancer, throat, nose and ear diseases threaten the life of thousands who live in the fallout zone. The 19 mile area around the plant still remains uninhabitable and has been marked off as an exclusion zone and is likely to remain so for several thousands of years to come.

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

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Dzerzhinsk in Russia was a city that was the hub for manufacturing chemical weapons during the Cold War era and continues to be the main centre for chemical manufacturing in Russia due to which the city has now made it to the list of the most polluted places in the world. Some of the types of pollutants that one can expect to find here are a variety of chemical waste and other toxic byproducts such as VX gas and sarin. Even today, there are several parts of the city where the phenol and dioxin levels in the water are 17 million times above the permissible levels. Thanks to the chemical pollution, death rates are drastically high while life expectancies are very short.

Vapi, India

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Vapi town is situated in the southern end of a rather long industrial belt and bears the brunt of pollution as more than 50 industrial estates discharge chemical waste, heavy metals and pesticides. The ground water levels in Vapi have mercury content that is 96 times higher than the permissible safety levels. There are heavy metals present even in the local produce and the air and all this has resulted in high occurrences of birth complications and cancer.

La Oroya, Peru

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La Oroya is one of the most popular lead mining towns in Peru and the resulting pollution from all the mining and processing often takes a heavy toll on the children here. Studies have shown that the lead levels in 99% of the children in this town exceed the permissible safety levels. Other than lead some of the other pollutants that play havoc in this small town are copper, sulfur dioxide and zinc causing dangerously high levels of air pollution.

Sumqgayit, Azerbaijan

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Once a major industrial center for the erstwhile Soviet Union, Sumqgayit had more than 40 factories that manufactured agricultural and industrial chemicals and while they were operational nearly 120,000 tons of toxic emissions which included mercury was released into the air thus polluting the place.  Even though most of these factories cease to be operational, the pollution levels still remain at an all time high due to lack of controls, lack of proper treatment and disposal techniques and presence of outdated technologies.

Tianying, China

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Tianying is situated in the Anhui province in China and is an important industrial city for the country, as it accounts for more than half of the country’s lead production. Lack of proper regulations and presence of modern technologies have led to heavy lead pollution in the water and the soil of this city.

Sukinda, India

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Sukinda, a mining region in India, which has one of the world’s largest open cast chromite mines has one of the most polluted water, soil and air thanks to these very chromite mines and possessing operations. Amongst other metals that pollute the area, hexavalent chromium is also one of them. This heavy metal is highly carcinogenic and more than 60% of the drinking water in Sukinda is contaminated by this heavy metal. Residents suffer a variety of ailments such as asthma, gastrointestinal bleeding, infertility, tuberculosis and even birth defects.

Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan

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An elite industrial town in the erstwhile Soviet Union, rich deposits of uranium was discovered in Mailuu-Suu which led to establishments of mines and processing units here. However due to lack of regulations and adequate safety measures, Mailuu-Suu today, has one of the major concentrations of radioactive waste even though the mining operations came to a halt in 1960s. This high concentration of radioactive waste has affected the quality of life of the residents in Mailuu-Suu which is one of the reasons why Mailuu-Suu is one of amongst the most polluted places in the world.