Sadly, Big Business Has Destroyed These 5 Global Cities

If you enjoy cancer, radiation, or chronic diarrhea, check out these spots for your next vacation.

Jan 26, 2014 at 1:33PM

Humans are dirty. And in some places, we've polluted so horribly that we've knocked decades off our own disease-ridden life expectancies. Environmental groups Green Cross Switzerland and Blacksmith Institute have picked the most polluted places in the world, and their latest list spans from South America to Siberia. In unranked order, here are five of the most polluted places you'll never want to go.

Agbogbloshie, Ghana 


Source: Author

You are to blame for the atrocity that is Agbogbloshie. As the second-largest e-waste processing area in West Africa, this Ghanian city imports over 215,000 tons of electronics every year, from refrigerators to televisions.

While salvaging and recycling make economic sense, loose regulation and cut corners make methods malicious. Most machines are simply burned, resulting in toxic materials permeating the air, soil, and water of Agbogbloshie.

Chernobyl, Ukraine


Source: Wikimedia Commons, Mond 

Twenty-eight years ago, Chernobyl gained international infamy when a local nuclear power plant melted, releasing more than 100 times the radiation felt by atomic bomb victims in Japan.

Risks remain today. Even beyond the 19-mile exclusion zone, radiation remains "well above" recommended levels. Anywhere between five and 10 million people are at risk, and research suggests that the meltdown has caused around 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer .

Hazaribagh, Bangladesh


Source: Flickr, travelwayoflife 

If you like the smell of leather, visit Hazaribagh – and then immediately leave. The Dhaka suburb's 250 registered tanneries dump 22,000 cubic liters of toxic waste into its main river (and water supply) every single day. While Harazibagh residents may be slowly dying from carcinogenic toxins, they are also faced with daily issues of skin and respiratory diseases, acid burns, dizziness, and nausea . If you don't feel like pushing production problems on poor nations, it might be high time to check your leather jacket for the telltale "Made in Bangladesh" tag. 

Matanza Riachuelo, Argentina


Source: Wikimedia Commons, Dario Alpern 

15,000 industries pour pollution into the Matanza-Riachuelo River Basin as it winds its way through Buenos Aires. Chemical manufacturers alone account for more than a third of the pollution, pushing a killer cocktail of zinc, lead, copper, nickel, and chromium into the riverbed.

The homes of around 12,000 local residents have been deemed "unsuitable for human habitation," but neither that nor the fact that 20,000 people have an 8-in-10 chance of drinking unsafe well water will change the fact that its impoverished citizens are here to stay. For now, at least, the people of Matanza-Riachuelo residents will continue so suffer from diarrhea, respiratory diseases, and cancer .

Niger River Delta, Nigeria


Source: Wikimedia Commons, Julien Gomba 

Big Oil has taken its toll in Nigeria. Since the late 1950's, energy companies have headed to the Niger River Delta to extract its "black gold." And while no one likes wasted oil, the area has seen 7,000 oil spills between 1976 and 2001 where the majority of oil was never cleaned up. Estimates put annual spills at 240,000 barrels of crude oil.

That might seem like peanuts compared to the 2 million barrels extracted every day, but oil adds up. Two-thirds of the delta is polluted, with oil seeping its way into the water, air, and food systems of local Nigerians. One study suggests that oil has contributed to a 60% drop in household food security, as well as 24% spike in child undernutrition .

Living on the outskirts won't help much, either. Studies consistently found high copper and nickel concentrations in soil covering a 40-mile radius around the city. That means city slickers and surbanites alike suffer from respiratory diseases and cancer, and children are 50% more likely to get sick than those from other districts .

The List Goes On
Unfortunately, this list is only half of Blacksmith's picks. If you want to feel even worse about the world, you can click here for the other five polluted places.

But while the Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland have sourced the worst of the worst, they've also included examples of the ways in which we're slowly saving these spots.

Help can be as simple as introducing hand wire-stripping tools at the Agbogbloshie dumpsite , or as complicated as a billion dollar World Bank project addressing sanitation and pollution reduction on the riverbanks of Matanza Riachuelo. But easy or difficult, humanity is slowly doing its part to clean up the mess we've created.

Your Money Can Clean The World

When you put your money in a savings account, banks can invest those funds anywhere in the world – and with anyone. Unfortunately, that can sometimes mean your piggy bank is funding polluting practices in the world's most fragile environments. The simplest way to go green is to choose your own clean investments – and if you invest wisely, you'll even be rewarded with substantial profits. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you why investing is so important and what you need to do to get started. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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