Scientific American has just published a list of the 10 most polluted cities on Earth. The good news: none of them are in North America. The bad news: people actually have to live in these places. The surprising news: Chernobyl only came in at #2. The number one spot is occupied by Sumqayit, Azerbaijan:
Yet another heir to the toxic legacy of Soviet industry, this city of 275,000 bears heavy metal, oil and chemical contamination from its days as a center of chemical production. As a result, locals suffer cancer rates 22 to 51 percent higher than their countrymen, and their children suffer from a host of genetic defects, ranging from mental retardation to bone disease.
And they achieved all of this without the benefit of a nuclear meltdown. Astounding. What fine stewards of the Earth we are.
Sumqayit. Come for the rusty smokestacks, stay for the organ failure.