In Photos: World's Most Polluted Places

(Image credit: Blacksmith Institute)

The environmental non-profit Blacksmith Institute published a list of 2013's worst polluted places on Earth. Most are found in developing areas and include industrial cities, e-waste processing centers and mining towns. Shown here is Chernobyl, Ukraine, where the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986 released 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Agbogbloshie, Ghana

(Image credit: Blacksmith Institute)

People burn wires and other electronics to obtain valuable cooper and other materials, but this process also releases toxic fumes at the Agbogbloshie dumpsite in Accra, Ghana.

Norilsk, Russia

(Image credit: Stanislav Lvovsky)

Each year, nearly 500 tons each of copper and nickel oxides and 2 million tons of sulfur dioxide are released into the air in Norilsk, Russia.

Niger River Delta, Nigeria

(Image credit: Terry Whalebone)

Oil extraction in the Niger River Delta has resulted in thousands of spills and groundwater contamination.

Matanza Riachuelo, Argentina

(Image credit: Yanina Budkin / World Bank)

The Matanza-Riachuelo River Basin has been polluted by chemicals like zinc, lead, copper, nickel and total chromium.

Kalimantan, Indonesia

(Image credit: Blacksmith Institute)

Gold miners in Kalimantan, Indonesia, like this young man shown here, are exposed to high levels of mercury.

Kabwe, Zambia

(Image credit: Blacksmith Institute)

In 2006, lead levels in the blood of children in Kabwe, exceed the recommended levels by five to 10 times. Here, a boy digs for lead.

Hazaribagh, Bangladesh

(Image credit: Blacksmith Institute)

Up to 95 percent of Bangladesh's 270 registered tanneries can be found in the city of Hazaribagh. Chemicals like the known carcinogen hexavalent chromium enter the water supply from these leather-processing facilities.

Dzerzhinsk, Russia

(Image credit: Blacksmith Institute)

The Guinness Book of World Records named Dzerzhinsk, Russia, the most chemically polluted city on Earth. Up until the end of the Cold War, Dzerzhinsk was one of Russia's principal manufacturing sites for chemical weapons. Between 1930 and 1998, nearly 300,000 tons of chemical waste had been improperly disposed of there.

Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.