Posts filed under ‘Lists’

12 Of The World’s Most Polluted Cities

A list of some of the world’s most polluted cities, careless treatment of the environment has led to these cities being next to uninhabitable (without adverse health effects). The cities on this list are not placed in any specific order, and this list is not about the world’s top 12 most polluted cities. Quick fact: Judging by air quality 16 out of 20 of the world’s most polluted cities are in China.

Haina, Dominican Republic

Number Affected: 84,700

Haina,also known as Bajos de Haina, is often called “The Dominican Chernobyl”. The city is home to a closed automobile battery recycling smelter, and nearly everyone in Haina suffers from lead poisoning. Some experts have claimed this city is the site of the highest levels of lead contamination in the world. The majority of the citizens have nine to ten times more lead in their blood than what is deemed safe by the EPA. The source of the contamination is believed to be the old factory,the factory has since moved to a different area, however the damage has already been done.

Blacksmith Institute

La Oroya,Peru

Number Affected: 30,000

The smelter in La Oroya hires more people in town than any other business, each year it produces 70,000 tonnes of copper,122,000 tonnes of lead and 45,000 tonnes of zinc. However the smelter has left the town dangerously polluted. How bad is the problem? Many people in this town are dying from lead poisoning,the very air they breathe is toxic. Residents of the town say that they have to stay inside some days because they air is so heavy it is impossible to breathe. A study conducted in 1999 showed that the town had extremely high levels of pollution with 85 times more arsenic,41 times more cadmium and 13 times more lead than is generally considered safe to breathe. The majority of children under six suffer from toxic levels of lead in their blood six times higher than the maximum safe limit as set by the World Health Organization (10 micrograms).Many of the same children have also been diagnosed with dangerous levels of other toxins such as:cadmium,arsenic, and mercury. Surprisingly despite all of this the residents in the town don’t want the smelter shut down because it provides jobs.


Number Affected: 4,000,000+

Linfen China is generally considered to be the world’s most polluted city, a choking cloud of dust and smoke covers the city at all times. Linfen is one of China’s leading coal producers, and coal production is blamed for the city’s pollution. Residents say if clothes were left outside to dry, when you return to take the clothes down, they will be black. Local clinics are seeing cases of bronchitis,pneumonia,and lung cancer increase at an alarming rate. Residents of the city have high levels of lead poisoning, this is especially common in children. Arsenicosis, a disease caused by drinking water contaminated with arsenic is epidemic in all areas, and 52% of city’s drinking water is considered unsafe to drink.

The World’s Top 20 Most Polluted Cities


Number Affected: 500 (in Chernobyl), and 5,000,000 in areas covered in radioactive fallout

The site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl, is stilling contaminated after an accident that occurred in 1986. After the nuclear plant’s meltdown it is estimated that 100 times more radiation was released into the air than the fallout of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The city and the surrounding areas suffer from high levels of radiation, the 19 mile radius around the plant still remains uninhabitable. The effects of the radiation on the inhabitants is the subject of an intense debate however almost all can agree that thyroid cancer has increased in the region since the incident.

Sukinda, India

Number Affected: 2,600,000

Sukinda is contains 97% of India’s chromite ore deposits, and it is home to one of the largest chromite ore mines in the world. Twelve mines continue operating today without any environmental management plans. 30 million tons of waste rock have been spread out in surrounding areas, and the nearby Brahmani riverbanks. The mines discharge untreated water into the rivers, which then flow through an area that is flood prone resulting in further contamination. In the area 70% of surface water and 60% of drinking water is contaminated with two times more Chromium than the safe drinking level internationally. It has been recorded at 20 times the safe drinking limit several times over the years, researches also found the air and soil in the area to be contaminated. The workers at the coal mine have been heavily exposed to the contaminants daily. Tuberculosis,gastrointestinal bleed,and asthma are common. Birth defects,infertility, and still births have been on the rise. 84.7% of the deaths in the mining areas, and 86.4% of the deaths in nearby industrial villages are due to chromite related diseases.

Kabwe, Zambia

Number Affected: 255,000

Kabwe Zambia,located in southern Africa, was found to have an abundance of lead and zinc in 1902. Soon after the discovery mining and smelting industries moved in and ran almost continuously until 1994. The companies never dealt with any of the lead contamination that occurred, once the minerals ran out the industries left leaving behind 92 years of near constant pollution. Currently there are no more running mines in the area and the city is suffering from poisoned soil and water. A recent study found that the soil in a 12 1/2 mile radius (20km) had lead,cadmium,copper,and zinc at much higher levels than those deemed safe by the World Health Organization.There is a waterway in Kabwe that was once used by the smelters to carry away waste, that has no restrictions or safeguards to stop people from entering the water,local children often use this water for bathing.

On average the children of Kabwe have five to ten times more lead in their blood then the permissible maximum as by the EPA, in many cases it is potentially fatal.Younger men often search for scrap metals to sell and also suffer lead poisoning. A recent flood in the area washed years of built up waste into people’s gardens, homes, and into the city’s streets. Now much of the city is further contaminated with lead.

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

Number Affected: 300,000

Until the end of the cold war,Dzerzhinsk was one of Russia’s principal sites for chemical weapon productions and today it still remains a significant center for chemical manufacturing. An estimated 300,000 tonnes of chemical waste was carelessly and improperly disposed of between 1930 and 1998. 190 different identified chemicals were released into the groundwater, in places these chemicals turned the water into a white sludge containing dioxins, and phenol the levels of which are reported to be 17 million times the safe limit.

Because a number of industries are no longer in operation, groundwater, and water in the canals have risen and now threaten to release massive amounts of arsenic,mercury,lead,and dioxins into the Oka river basin a source of drinking water for the nearby city Nizhny Novgorod. Drinking supplies in this area and adjoining areas are heavily laced with contamination. A quarter of the city’s residents are still employed at factories that produce these toxic chemicals. There is a shocking amount of deaths below 40 in the local cemeteries. The death rate in this city has exceeded the birth rate by 260%. In one year there are 900 deaths in a city of 300,000. The average life expectancy for a man is 42, and 47 for women. The city has been labeled by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most chemically polluted city in the world.

Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan

Number Affected: 25,000

Throughout Mailuu-Suu there are twenty three tailing dumps and thirteen waste rock dumps. During the soviet era there was a uranium plant which produced more than 10,000 metric tons of uranium in twenty years. Millions of people in asia could be affected by this because the area where the plant stands is highly prone to seismic activity. An estimated 300,000 cubic meters fell into a river after an earthquake in 2005. 1.9 cubic meters of contamination are still in the dumps. A 1999 study found that the number of cases of any form of cancer in this area are twice as high as the rest of Kyrgyzstan.


Number Affected: 140,000

Tianying China produces about half of all lead in China, but low level technology,illegal operations,and almost no pollution control has led to severe lead poisoning in Tianying’s residents. It is also believed that some small recycling plants are located in the area which have a reputation for their heavy polluting. The lead industry has been pressured by local residents and officials to shut down production, but many industries remain in business. The average lead levels in the air and soil are(respectively) 8 1/2 and 10 times higher than health standards allow. Local farms have been contaminated with lead dust and contain as much as 24 times the amount of lead then allowed by national standards.

Many residents (particularly children) suffer from lead poisoning which has common effects such as:lower IQ,learning disabilities,hyper activity,short attention span,hearing and visual problems,stunted physical growth,kidney malfunction and failure,stomach aches,and brain damage. There has been a rise in premature births and cases of women giving birth to smaller, underdeveloped infants. This city has been labeled as one of the eight most polluted cities in China.

(no picture available)

Sumgayit, Azerbaijan

Number Affected: 275,000

Sumgayit used to be a major soviet industrial center,home to more than forty factories that produced industrial and agricultural chemicals. Some of the products included: synthetic rubber,chlorine,aluminium,pesticides,and detergents. While these factories were active they released more than 70-120,000 tonnes of harmful emissions into the air a year. Little to no precaution was taken to ensure safety the focus instead was turned to low cost production. Untreated sewage and mercury contaminated sludge are still dumped in the area.

During the soviet era Sumgayit had one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Sumgayit has 22-51% higher cancer rates than the rest of Azerbaijan, additionally there is an 8% increase in the cancer related mortality rate compared to the rest of the country. A high percentage of babies are still born or premature, and many suffer genetic defects such as down syndrome,bone disease,spinda bifida, hydrocephalus, and anencephaly, and mutations such as: club feet,cleft palate,and additional digits.

Norilsk, Russia

Norilsk was founded as a slave camp in 1935 and is Russia’s northernmost major city. The mining and smelting process in the area started in the 1930’s and today it is the world’s largest heavy metal smelting complex. 500 tonnes of copper oxides,500 tonnes of nickel oxides,and 2 million tonnes of sulfur are released into the air each year. The city is one of the most polluted cities in Russia. The snow in some areas is black, the air tastes and smells of sulfur and the average life expectancy in the area is 10 years below the average in the rest of Russia. The pollution affects the 37 mile (60 km) radius around the city. Respiratory disease rates are high in this region,especially amongst children, who also suffer from ear,nose and throat diseases. Chronic diseases of the lungs,respiratory tracts, and digestive systems are not uncommon all of which can result in lung cancer. Premature and late term pregnancy complications are frequent.


Ranipet, India

Number Affected: 50,000+

Ranipet,India is a medium sized community located 100 miles from Chennai, the fourth largest area in India. The soil and groundwater in the city are dangerously contaminated after decades of solid waste dumps and runoff from local factories. There are an estimated 150,000 tonnes of solid waste which accumulated in twenty years stacked in an open yard on the facility premises. Drinking wells in the area have been abandoned and crops fail to grow in this area. Mere contact with the water can cause painful skin lacerations.

Blacksmith Institute


September 23, 2010 at 9:20 pm 10 comments

16 Unique Animals That You Probably Haven’t Seen

The animal kingdom is full of fascinating,unique, and sometimes strange and unusual animals. Here are just a handful of animals you probably have never seen from all around the world.

1. Happy Faced Spider

The happy faced spider is native to Hawaii (United States), and is instantly recognizable for the “happy face” on its back, hence the name. This spider species is about 5mm long overall,they have a yellow body, and each spider has its own unique markings. The variations of body color and markings serve as camouflage against birds, to counteract patterns recognized by predators. The pattern changes according to what the spider has eaten. The happy faced spider lives beneath the leaves of plants, where they also spin their webs.

2. Aardwolf

The aardwolf,also called the “maanhaar jackal” is a rather shy and nocturnal subspecies of the striped hyena that is native to eastern and southern Africa, living in open dry plains and bushlands, they are never found living in mountainous areas.  The aardwolf lives in burrows, usually ones abandoned by aardvarks,they hide in their burrows during the day, and come out at night to eat. Their diet completely consists of insects such as larvae and termites, they are capable of eating up to 200,000 termites in a single night.


  • The name means “earth wolf” in Afrikaans/Dutch.

3. Fossa

A carnivorous mammal endemic* to Madagascar, it is closely related to the, mongoose family. The fossa is the largest mamalian carnivore on Madagascar compared in size to a small cougar, they hunt medium sized animals such as fish,birds,rodents, and small lemurs. The fossa were once widespread on Madagascar, now they can be found in small numbers in the countries’ last remaining forests. This species is considered to be cathemeral**, their activity can peak early in the morning,late in the afternoon and late at night. They do not reuse sleeping sites, but females and young do return to the same den. Their population is considered vulnerable by the IUCN due to their population decline over the last 20 years.

*Endemic is basically another word for native.

*A cathemeral animal is one that has sporadic and random intervals of activity the day or night.

4. European Ground Squirrel

The european ground squirrel,also known as the european souslik, is found in eastern Europe in: Ukraine,Czech Republic,Greece,Romania,Bulgaria, some parts of Asia, and as far north as Poland. Living in colonies, in individual burrows, they are diurnal which means they are active during the day and they sleep at night. Their diet consists of seeds,plant soots,roots, and flightless invertebrates. They hibernate during autumn, and March depending on the climate. They begin building up fat reserves in late summer, early in the summer the european ground squirrels give birth to a litter of five to eight cubs. Their population is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.

5. Blobfish

A deep sea fish found off the coast of Australia and Tasmania, it is rarely seen by people and it lives at a depth where the pressure is several dozen times higher than at sea level. The blobfish has a density that is slightly less than water which allows it to float above the sea floor without it having to waste energy swimming. It’s diet consists of edible matter that floats in front of it. The blobfish is often caught by bottom trawling with nets as a bycatch, because the oceans off of Australia may be its only habitat, it is considered to be under threat of extinction.

blobfish.jpg image by Azzedarius

6. Lesser Grison

The lesser grison belongs to the ferret family and it can be found in:Peru,Argentina,Bolivia,Brazil,Chile and Paraguay. They are usually found near water,living under rocks and tree roots and have been known to inhabit vacated burrows.The lesser grison feeds on small mammals,invertebrates,reptiles,amphibians,fruits and eggs. They have litters of two to five, and the young are capable of leaving the birth place after just a few days. The lesser grison are known for their aggressiveness, in fact there is even a Chilean expression: “estar como quiqe” meaning be like the grison.

7. Ring-Tailed Cat

The ring-tailed cat is a relative of the raccoon family and is native to north america found in nine states in the United States (California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico,Nevada, Texas, Utah) as well as three Mexican states (Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz).They live in rocky areas, and deserts,where they nest in hollowed out trees or abandoned wooden structures.They are nocturnal and omnivorous eating fruits,berries,insects,lizards,small rodents and even birds. The ring-tailed cat has several predators including owls,foxes,coyotes,raccoons, and bobcats. They are easy to tame and are legal to keep as pets in parts of the United States.

8. Blanket Octopus

This rather unique looking blanket octopus is found of Australia’s northern coast. This species exhibit an extreme degree of sexual dimorphism*, the females can grow to six feet (two meters) in length while the males are at most a few centimeters long. The species is immune to the poisonous Portuguese man o’ war, whose tentacles males and immature females rip off for defensive purpose. Unlike other octopuses this species does not use ink to intimidate predators, they simply uncurl a large net like membrane which spread out, this trait is what gives this species it’s name.

*sexual dimorphism is a size difference between genders of the same species

9. Glass Frog

The glass frog is found from Mexico to Panama, and through the Andes into Bolivia and Venezuela some species have been found as far as the Amazon basins,Brazil, and Argentina. The frog’s name comes from its translucent skin through which the glass frog’s internal organs including the heart and liver are visible. They are generally small from 3 to 7.5 centimeters (1.2-3 inches) in length, their colors range from yellow to green, except for their translucent skin which covers the lower part of it’s body.

10. Hairy Frog

The hairy frog comes from Sub-Saharan Africa, they are also known as squeakers because their high-pitched call. The males have hair like structures on the body and thighs hence the name. They are small only 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) in length, they are mostly found in leaves on the forest floor. They do not have an aquatic stage, and thus do not have tadpoles, they lay eggs on the ground in leaf litter or crevices and the offspring undergo a direct development. Some species are hatched in their adult form, while others are born with tadpole like tails still attached. The hairy frog has been threatened by habitat loss, but they are currently not considered endangered by the IUCN.

11. Leafy Sea Dragon

The leafy sea dragon lives off the southern and western coasts of Australia, where they live near clumps of sand in waters about 50 meters (or 150 feet) deep.  They feed on plankton,mysids, shrimp and small fish. Oddly the leafy sea dragon does not have teeth which is a rare among animals that eat things such as small fish and shrimp.Like sea horses the males of this species also care for the eggs, taking care of up to 250 bright pink eggs at a time.Once they are born the young leafy sea dragons are completely independent, only 5% make it to adulthood. This species is related to the smaller multi-colored weedy sea dragon.

12. Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko

A species of gecko that is endemic to Madagascar, it is also known as the eyelash leaf-tailed gecko, and the fantastic leaf-tailed gecko.They live in the leaves and leaf litter on the forest floor, relying on their color and tail for camouflage. The adults are anywhere from 2.5-6 inches in length, and they come in a variety of colors ranging in hues of purple,orange,tan,and yellow. The satanic leaf-tailed gecko’s diet consists of a variety of insects including crickets and moths. Habitat destruction and deforestation in Madagascar have prompted the IUCN to label them as vulnerable.

13. Angora Rabbit

The angora rabbit is a variety of domestic rabbit prized for its long,soft fur. One of the oldest types of domestic rabbit,it originates in Ankara,Turkey.Angola’s are bred mainly for their wool which is cut every three to four months throughout the year. There are four different breeds of angora rabbit:English,French,German,Giant,and Satin. Pictured below is a English angora rabbit.

14. Frilled Shark

This prehistoric looking shark lives in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, its “primitive” features have earned it the nickname “the living fossil. They are usually found deep under water at depths of 1,500 meters (about 4,500 feet), but have been found on rare occasions on the surface of the water. They prey on bony fish,cephalopods,smaller sharks,and squid. The frilled shark has been offered as an explanation for sea serpent sightings, as the sightings occur in their habitat. They are sometimes caught by fishermen as a bycatch, and as a result they are considered near threatened by the IUCN.

15. Purple Frog

The purple frog endemic to the Western Ghats of India, also known as the pignose frog, it was discovered in October 2003. Adults are typically dark purple in color, and around 7 centimeters long, and interestingly enough they are said to have a cry that sounds like a chicken. The frog spends most of the year underground, surfacing only for two weeks during the monsoon to mate. Their diet consists of insects, mostly termites. The species is listed as endangered by the IUCN.

16. Spiny Turtle

The spiny turtle is found in Brunei, Indonesia,Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, it’s name comes from its sharp,pointed,spiky edged shell. Also known as the cog-wheel turtle, they typically live in rainforests near streams in hilly areas, 900m or so above sea level. They are listed as endangered by the IUCN.

September 23, 2010 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment

12 Amazing Extinct Animals

All of the animals featured on this list have gone extinct in the last 7,000 years and with the exception of a few, mankind is to blame for their extinction. unfortunately these are just a small handful out of the many species that have been lost. Hopefully this will serve as a reminder to some how important wildlife conservation and preservation of the environment is.

1. Quagga

The quagga is probably Africa’s most famous extinct animal, and it is a subspecies of the plains zebra we see today. They were once found in great numbers in South Africa,however not long after their discovery over hunting caused their numbers to plummet. The last wild quagga is believed to have been shot in the late 1870s, and the last one in captivity died on August 12 1883 at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam.

2.Thylacine the Tasmanian Tiger

Thylacine,better known as the Tasmanian Tiger, was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. Native to Australia and New Guinea, the Tasmanian Tiger was driven to extinction by many factors the greatest of which was intensive hunting encouraged by bounties. Other contributory factors included disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment on their habitat. The last known Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity inn 1936.

The last Tasmanian tiger (thylacine), a female about 12 years old, which  died in 1936.

3. The Irish Deer

The Irish deer, or giant deer, was the largest species of deer that ever lived. Found in Eurasia from Ireland all the way to Lake Baikal, it was 7 feet tall at the shoulders. They had the largest antlers of any deer having the maximum width of 12 feet from tip to tip, capable of weighing up to 90 pounds! Discussion of the cause for their extinction has primarily been attributed to their antlers, many believe that their antler size restricted their movement in the forests they lived in. Others consider the possibility that it was hunted to extinction by man. Whatever the case the species died out approximately 7,700 years ago.

4. Steller’s Sea Cow

The steller sea cow was named after the man who discovered it, Georg Steller. It grew up to 25 feet in length and was capable of weighing up to three tons, much larger than the manatee or dugong. The species was widespread among the North Pacific Coast, living in a range that stretched as far north as the Bering sea, and as far south as Japan and California The arrival of humans into the area is believed to have caused their extinction. there are sporadic reports of sea cow like creatures being seen in the area,however no sighting has ever been confirmed. It is believed that the last steller sea cow died in 1768.

5. The Dodo

The dodo was a flightless bird found in the Indian Ocean on the Island of Mauritius, standing about three feet tall it was a relative of the modern day pigeon dove. The dodo lived on fruit and built their nests on the ground. Humans drove this species to extinction sometime in the 17th century. The dodo is probably the best known extinct species and their extinction has given way to some commonly used phrases such as: “dead as a dodo” meaning undoubtedly and unquestionably dead, and “to go the way of the dodo” meaning to become extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or to become a thing of the past

6. The Caspian Tiger

The caspian tiger, also known as the persian tiger was the westernmost species of tiger. Out of all the subspecies of tigers the persian tiger was the third largest. This subspecies of tiger was found in many countries including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Caucasus, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Poaching is usually attributed to causing its extinction, the last known caspian tiger died in the 1970’s.

7. Auroch

The auroch,or urus, was a large species of cattle that was found in Poland,Lithuania,Moldavia,Transylvania,and East Prussia. After they were discovered they were hunted by royal families and nobility for sport which decreased their numbers dramatically, by the time the hunting was stopped there were only 38 aurochs left. The last recorded auroch died in 1627.

8.Giant Auk

The giant auk, also referred to as the great auk or garefowl,was the only species of the genus Pinguinus to survive to modern times. The giant auk stood 30-34 inches high, and was found in great numbers on the islands off the east coast of Canada,Greenland,Iceland,Norway,Ireland, and Great Britain. This species was hunted by man into extinction, becoming officially extinct in 1844.

9. The Cave Lion

The cave lion,also known as the European or Eurasian Cave Lion, was the largest known subspecies of lion to ever exist. A male’s body could reach a length of sex feet (not including it’s tail), they were about 5-10% bigger than the modern day lions. The cave lion is believed to have gone extinct 10,000 years ago during the Wurm glaciation, although there are indications that the species may have survived until about 2,000 years ago in the Balkans.

10. The Bubal Hartebeest

The bubal hartebeest was a species of antelope that once lived in Algeria,Egypt,Libya,and Morocco,and Tunisia, and possibly in the Middle East. They stood four feet tall at the shoulder and had a pair of lyre shaped horns. Hunting in the 19th century dramatically decreased its numbers, sealing its fate. The last known bubal hartebeest was a female who died in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, in 1923.


  • The name hartebeest is a dutch word that literally means deer.
  • The Egyptians domesticated the bubal hartebeest, and it may have been used as a sacrificial animal


11. The Golden Toad

The golden toad was discovered in 1966 by Herpetologist Jay Savage, the toad was native to the tropical cloud forests that surround Monteverde, Costa Rica. The golden toad is best known for its namesake, its brilliant golden orange color. The extinction of this species is largely blamed on global warming and climate change, the last golden toad was seen in 1989. However, experts are not entirely convinced it is extinct, some species, particularly amphibians will go unseen for 20-100 years, sometimes longer before they are seen again.

Golden Toad

12. Baiji River Dolphin

The Baiji River Dolphin is one of the more recent species to go extinct, the population decreased dramatically in recent decades as China industrialized making heavy use of their rivers for fishing,transportation and hydroelectricity. Industrial and Residential waste flowed into the rivers poisoning the water, noise pollution caused the nearly blind animal to collide with ship propellers, and most deaths were attributed to entanglement in fishing gear. Only a few hundred were left in the 1970’s which dropped to 400 in the 1980’s and by 1997 there were only 13 left. A full fledged search was conducted, and the Baiji River Dolphin was declared extinct in late 2006 when the expedition searched their entire range but failed to record a single individual after their extensive search.


September 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm 2 comments


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