As the world’s best athletes get ready to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics, the real competition might not be with one another but with Rio’s pestilential problem: the city’s waterways are swarming with sewage, human feces, viruses, and bacteria. Brazilian officials insist that Rio’s water will be safe for swimming and boating by the time the 2016 games start, but a full clean up seems unlikely considering how cash-strapped the government is. So how bad is it? Is Rio’s water contamination just another example of pre-Olympic, media handwringing - like air pollution in Beijing? According to the Guardian, athletes at the Rio Olympics are almost certain to come into contact with disease causing viruses. As Fusion aptly suggested, Brazil’s Summer Games could be "the shi**iest yet."
70% of the world is covered with water, but how much of that water is poisoned and contaminated? Even the most pristine looking rivers and lakes have sinister undercurrents, noxious chemicals and deadly heavy metals. Flint, Michigan made headlines when it was uncovered that 25,000 children had been exposed to lead contamination from the city’s water supply. In a cost-saving measure, Flint switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River. Kids broke out in rashes and scabies. Others stopped growing, or became irritable and aggressive. The effects of Flint’s lead poisoning disaster will be felt for years. Here are 10 of the world’s most poisoned bodies of water.
10 The Blue Lagoon - Derbyshire, UK
9 Newtown Creek - New York
8 Niger Delta - Nigeria
7 The King River - Australia
6 Horseshoe Lake - California
5 Citarum River - West Java, Indonesia
4 Rio Tinto - Spain
3 The Ohio River - USA
2 Yamuna River - India
1 Lake Karachay - Russia
Located in the southern Ural mountains, Lake Karachay is the most polluted place on the planet. The Soviet Union used the lake as a dumping ground for its nuclear facilities until the 1990s. The body of water is so toxic, in fact, that just standing on the shore for an hour gives you a radiation dose of 600 roentgen. Lake Karachay is located near Mayak Production Association, one of the leakiest and most meltdown-prone nuclear facilities in Russia (Myak was kept secret until 1990). People in nearby villages and towns saw a 25 percent increase in birth defects, a 41 percent increase in leukemia, and the Techa River was so poisoned with waste that 65 percent of the locals got radiation sickness. Today, Lake Karachay is full of concrete. The idea is that the concrete will absorb the radiation and keep the sediment away from the shore.
Sources: BBC.com, TheGuardian.com, NationalGeographic.com
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