The Six Most Disgusting Side Effects of Pollution
3. West Virginia's Terrifying Water
Source: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Hey, speaking of the Clean Water Act, want to know what happens when you completely disregard it? Just ask the nice folks in and near Charleston, West Virginia. Before you make with the hick jokes, it's worth remembering, for those who slept through second grade social studies, that Charleston isn't in the middle of nowhere with people playing banjos. It's the state capital.
It also has plenty of delicious additives thanks to the local mining efforts. Items like nickel, lead, arsenic, barium, all those really good metals that are nice, tasty, delicious, oh, and also terrible for your health.
How terrible? Try “erode the enamel off your teeth just by drinking the water” bad. Try “scabs and rashes all over your body” bad.
So, yeah, lots of fun.
2. Turkmenistan's Gates of Hell
Source: Wikipedia/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
In Turkmenistan, they have many, many natural resources, including natural gas. Unfortunately, in Turkmenistan, they also lack proper safety procedures and knowledge to actually get this stuff out of the ground without killing somebody or triggering some form of disaster. All of this combines to create some interesting circumstances, such as the world's largest natural gas fire.
You might be wondering how big this gas fire is. Well, “The Door To Hell” is not a polite sobriquet: there are people who sincerely believe that somebody actually dug a door to hell, which is where the fire comes from, instead of somebody being stupid with a cigarette. People were so convinced that news articles actually ran on some of the more credulous news station saying that people heard the screams of the damned.
On the bright side, at least it's somewhat scenic.
1. The Big Smoke of London
Source: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
You might be wondering why some air pollution in 1952 ranks above tooth-rotting water, sinkholes opening in the ground, and gigantic piles of toxic crap floating in the ocean. Well, that's because none of those killed people on a scale of thousands.
The Great Smoke was due partially thanks to weather patterns: an “anti-cyclone” dropped on London like a rock. In 1952, most Londoners burned coal to keep warm, and London's industries naturally dumped tons of stuff into the air, because what's the worst that could happen?
Roughly 12,000 fatalities. Yep, the Great Smoke didn't just reduce visibility so badly people couldn't drive, it didn't just seep into buildings making going to the movies impossible, it had the fatality rate of a small war. So, in case anybody says to you that pollution never killed anybody, just ask the English.
But at least the undertakers had a good week. So it improved the economy. That's something.