An article by the Huffington Post investigates the world’s most polluted cities. The top ten list includes Linfen, China; Los Angeles, United States; Niger Delta, Nigeria; London, United Kingdom; Dzerzhinsk, Russia; Phoenix, United States; Bandung Indonesia; La Oroya, Peru; and Lake Karachay, Russia.

According to the article, “Living in Linfen, China, is equivalent to smoking three packs of cigarettes a day”

“In 2003, Dzerzhinsk, Russia’s death rate surpassed its birth rate by 260 percent.”

“Phoenix, Arizona, United States is 2010's worst place in the United States for year round particle pollution... a mix of dust, soot and aerosols.”

But enough about the effects, what about the causes of air pollution? Air pollutants are sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ground level ozone, particulate matter, and lead. Oil and gas industries are the main source of air pollution followed by the power and transportation sectors. Air emissions are generated three ways: point of source (power plants), line of source (major roads), and diffuse area sources (petrol stations, chemical storage areas and small scale industries).

Due to rapid economic growth, individuals and companies are demanding more energy, more resources, and more pollutants. The hazards of increasing industrial wastes and the need to curb global environmental pollution levels are creeping up. Most responsibility is placed on companies. Businesses are tapping into green product innovations: achieving growth, sustaining the environment, and creating a better quality of life.

The root of the pollution problem is the same question conservationists ask: Is economic development and environmental conservation mutually exclusive? Can one enjoy business acceleration while preventing ecological degradation?

On a side note, I have to question the final tally. Having spent some time in Tianjin, China (a city over 1,000 km from Linfen, China), I’m surprised China only has one “top ten” pollution city. My clothing would turn black, too, if I hung it out to dry after the wash.

Share this article