Think it’s dirty where you live? Truth is, the scattered cigarette butts, candy wrappers, and whatever other miscellaneous garbage you may see lying around the ground is nothing compared to the cleanliness issues that some countries face. Imagine trying to catch a breath of fresh air in one of these countries considered the most polluted:
- Pakistan’s air pollution is almost ten times higher than levels considered dangerous by the World Health Organization (WHO). Water pollution is also a major area of concern in Pakistan due to raw sewage and industrial waste. In addition, according to the country’s Center for Research and Security Studies, Pakistan’s water supply is evaporating so quickly that they will be considered a “water-famine” country by the end of the decade.
- Botswana is another country with a serious air pollution problem. It seems strange that a country with just over 1.5 million people and the largest proportion of land under conservation in the world (80% of the country is the Kalahari Desert) could be so badly polluted. Botswana is climbing the economic ladder thanks to its mineral industry, yet this is the cause of wild fires and massive amounts of pollutants in the air such as sulfur dioxide and nickel.
- Mongolian people need heat for survival for about eight months out of the year, and they’ll use anything from coal and wood to garbage and old tires to keep warm and cook. The amount of premature deaths, chronic bronchitis, and respiratory related hospital admissions are on a booming rise, and it’s no secret what the culprit is. Traditional coal stoves and boilers used for heating and cooking are the country’s main sources of pollution, along with car emissions. With an air pollution level 14 times higher than WHO’s standard threat level, Mongolia is considered to be the most polluted country in the world.
If you happen to visit these countries or any of the others on the WHO’s list, be very mindful to constantly make sure you wash your hands, drink clean, filtered water, and take all other appropriate measures necessary to maintain your health and hygiene.
Guest Author: Derek Gianetti
Derek Giannetti, a guest contributor to the Healthy Travel blog, is an upcoming senior at Ursinus College where he plays football and studies exercise and sports science. Upon graduation, Derek hopes to pursue a career in health and physical education.
Photo by kitseeborg.