35 Dirty & Shocking Facts About Pollution

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1Norilsk

Pollution in the city of Norilsk in Russia is so severe that mining the topsoil is now economically feasible because it contains so many heavy metals.


2. Cigarette butts are the most polluted items in the world, accounting for 2 billion pounds of waste per year. To combat this, some entrepreneurs have developed eco-friendly butts that decompose in 2-6 weeks and then sprout into trees.


3. In the 1980s, India released 25,000 flesh-eating turtles into the Ganges River in an attempt to clean up corpse-pollution. The turtles were raised on dead fish so they wouldn’t develop a taste for the living, as they ate mostly everything. The $32 million plan failed due to corruption and mismanagement.


4. Slash and burn practices in Indonesia have essentially turned the whole country into a perpetual forest fire, causing widespread pollution problems across all of Southeast Asia every year in the dry season.


5. One liter of oil can contaminate one million liters of water. It's important to understand that when you dispose of oil in the sink, it affects a million liters of recyclable water.


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6Illegal coal mining

Illegal coal mining activities in Mongolia and the intense use of coal burned on simple stoves have turned a region of Mongolia once famed for its blue skies into one of the world’s most polluted.


7. "Microbeads" used in exfoliating soaps are actually made of plastic and they are a major source of pollution. They can stay in the environment for up-to 50 years as they can easily pass through water treatment plants.


8. Zone Rouges are areas of France so polluted with vast amounts of human and animal remains and millions of items of unexploded ordnance from World War 1 that no human activity is allowed there.


9. In Oklahoma, there exists a ghost town named Picher so polluted from lead mining that leftover minerals have caused the rivers to turn red. Children who went swimming in the arsenic-filled water thought they were just getting sunburnt - in reality, they were being covered in chemical burns.


10. In 2007, China tested a missile and shot down one of their own satellites and in the process created 2,087 pieces of space debris on crazy orbits. Tracking of these pieces are now a requirement to avoid space collisions.


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11Chisso Corporation

A Japanese chemical company named Chisso Corporation once polluted a bay so thoroughly that some sediment contained up to 2 kg of mercury per ton. This concentration made mining economically viable, and eventually, the company set up a subsidiary to do just that.


12. The Taylor oil spill which has been going on since 2004 leaks 300-700 barrels of oil a day.


13. In 1952, London suffered from a severe smog that was the equivalent of breathing in acid rain. 4,000 people died from it and over 100,000 fell ill. Some train lines had to use explosions as signals because drivers couldn't see the lights. It is known to be the worst air-pollution event in the history of the UK.


14. The Asian brown cloud is a layer of air pollution that appears over South Asia and the Indian Ocean every year between January and March when there is no rain to wash pollutants from the air. Nearly two million people die each year, in India alone, from conditions related to the brown cloud.


15. In 2009, an estimated 31,000,000 birds died from being confused by light pollution while migrating overnight. Simply turning off the lights can potentially save tens of millions of birds from colliding with glass.


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16Fake sunrise

In 2014, the air was so polluted in Beijing that the government broadcasted fake sunrises and blue skies on a giant screen in Tiananmen Square.


17. Cubatão, Brazil is one of the most polluted cities in the world and has been nicknamed "Valley of Death", due to births of brainless children and respiratory, hepatic and blood illnesses.


18. Noise pollution is deadly to whales. Sonar can directly inflict fatal physical trauma and decompression sickness (akin to “the bends”) in whales, in which case, individuals and sometimes entire pods will beach themselves to escape, whereupon they will choke to death under their own weight or drown at high tide.


19. Burning candles are bad for your health, making homes as polluted as a typical Beijing apartment.


20. There are over 400,000 pounds of man-made trash and debris on the moon, including 96 bags of urine, feces, and vomit.


21Internal Air

Studies show that air inside an office or a home is more polluted than the outside air. That’s why it is wise to crack open windows for some time, even in winter, to let some fresh air in. A cooler bedroom, at around 67 degrees, results in better sleep, but you don’t want to open your window too far in winter or you risk getting sick


22. A single large container ship emits as much pollution as 50 million automobiles.


23. The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York City is so polluted that unidentifiable new forms of microbiological life have arisen in its sludge.


24. The most polluted city in the world, Zabol in Iran, gets its bad air quality mostly because of natural reasons. There is a constant flow of wind blowing in from the desert for four months of the year, which brings in harmful sand particles.


25. There are more than 500,000 pieces of debris floating or orbiting around Earth now. Most of them originated as parts of satellites and rockets.

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