China, India, and Russia are each home to two of the most polluted places on earth, with sites in Azerbaijan, Peru, Ukraine, and Zambia rounding out the top 10, says the second annual tally by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute. Some 12 million people total live in the affected areas, which are tainted largely by chemical-weapons manufacturing, heavy-metal and coal mining, and other dirty industry practices. “Children are being poisoned in droves,” says a representative of Green Cross Switzerland, which helped to compile the list. Satisfy your hankering for depressing statistics: In La Oroya, Peru, 99 percent of children have dangerous levels of lead in their blood. In Sumgayit, Azerbaijan, the cancer rate is up to 51 percent higher than the national average. In Vapi, India, mercury levels in groundwater are 96 times higher than what’s considered healthy. Cleanup in many places would only involve simple engineering projects, but funding, technical ability, and political priorities are lacking.

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