10 Most Polluted Rivers in the World

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Rivers, usually called “the source of life”, and one of the powerful forces of nature, are fresh water bodies providing food and water to people. Many advanced human civilizations of the world that we know of now, have originated and flourished on the river banks. Rivers act as a source of livelihood not only to those living on its banks but also to the fishermen and those living off bank. The purpose of river does not end here. Apart from being a grace, as a means of sustenance to the people, it helps a great way in trade and transportation. No doubt, they serve massively to human kind through various ways, yet their generosity, at times, can turn hostile towards us appearing as a destructive monster.

We all have heard of instances where over-flooding of the river cause destruction to human settlements on the banks and also sometimes dry themselves up depriving people of water. But this natural adversity is, nevertheless, a weakling when compared to a man-made disaster. Humans too have equally been defiling and destroying the river water by their interference to such a large extent that it has become almost impossible for us to use them for our needs. With industrial and technological revolution, came along large industries and factories which are set up near the river banks or pillared at a stone’s throw. Now where would the industrial wastes go? The answer to this is Rivers. Household wastes are also chanelled into the rivers through drainage systems. I am sure you can figure out what will be its aftermath! Release of toxic substances with foul stench blending with the river water pollutes the water and affects the marine creatures, killing half of them and leaving human with debilitating diseases when consuming such water. Thousands of rivers are flowing across the world with some of them being tremendously polluted.

Listed below are the ten polluted rivers in the world.

10. Mississippi River, U.S.A-


The term Mississippi refers to “big river” or “great river”. It is the main river of the largest drainage system in the entire North America and also acts as the greatest natural and economic resource for the US. This river flows all the way down in the US and rises in the northern Minnesota, meandering slowly. Mississippi river valley is one of the most fertile agricultural region. But since the modern development took its girth in the basin, this cardinal river has started getting polluted with all agricultural sewage making the surrounding areas of the river mouth as a “dead zone”. A recent report by a campaign group in 2012 claimed that in the year 2010, about 12.7 million pounds of toxic materials were disposed in the river including poisonous chemicals such as nitrates, benzene and arsenic.

9. Sarno River, Italy-


“Sarnus”, as was known to the Romans, this river originates at Mt. Sarno and passes through Pompeii to the south of the Italian city, Naples. The reason that this water body is regarded as the most polluted river in the whole of Europe is because of the dumping of all the industrial and agricultural wastes. Though the river makes partial use of itself by allowing to fish, transport and irrigate, large portions of it are covered by waste products while flowing through the Bay of Naples, defiling the aquatic animals and its environment.

8. Marilao River, Philippines-


Marilao river starts from the uplands of Rizal and flows through the Metro of Manila, in the Philippines. This river water is the most polluted, arousing a great concern not only to the government of Philippines but also the whole world. The non-profit environmental facility, known as the Blacksmith Institute, tagged this river as one of the world’s 30 dirtiest river in 2008, confirming the level of contamination as “high level”. Various non-recyclable objects such as plastic, bottles, polythene bags and all other junks come from the leather tanneries, gold refineries and other industries. Also, toxic substances such as manganese, zinc, nickel and cadmium are found mixed with river’s underground water making it undrinkable. Such toxicity made the river polluted and dangerous.

7. Yellow River, China-


The yellow river which is also called the Huang He, is the second longest river in Asia and the sixth longest river in the world. It finds its origin in the Bayan Har mountains in Qinghai province of western China an empties into the Bohai sea near the city of Dongying in Shadong province. It’s called “yellow” because of the muddy water arising from loess in the lower course of the river making it yellow. Popularly considered as “the cradle of Chinese civilization”, this river was the main source of drinking water and irrigation. Of late, this river has been suffering from pollution that has made it impossible for people to drink. According to the report by UN Environmental Programme, 4.29 billion tons of industrial wastes and sewages was dumped in 1996, making one third of it unusable.

6. Jordan River, Israel-


Jordan river originates in west Asia that flows to the Dead sea. The river is bordered by the State of Israel and West Bank to the west with Jordan lying to its east. This river has religious significance, it being the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. In the year 1964, the Israelis had built a dam on this river to divert its water to National Water Carriers. But the environmentalists say that these dam constructions have largely disturbed the ecosystem. Human consumption of the water is almost 70%-90% resulting in the reduction of flow. The water is now contaminated by huge amount of sewage and wastes. This caused a great concern for the environmentalists as they claimed that the level of pollution is increasing, releasing a foul smell due to agricultural wastes.

5. Yamuna River, India-


Yamuna, the largest tributary river of the Ganges, originates from the yamunotri glacier in the Lower Himalayas. It passes through several states of north India before merging with the Ganges at the Triveni Sangam. The river meets the need of nearly 57 million people and accounts for 70% of Delhi’s water supplies. But this river is now affected deeply by pollution as millions of household garbage, municipal disposals and soil erosion due to deforestation find their way into the river each day. Even the toxic chemical substances including insecticides, fertilizers, pesticides, etc., are also found, making it the second most polluted river in India after Ganges.

4. Buriganga River, Bangladesh-


Buriganga received its term after its dispatch from the river Ganges. With difficulty to trace the channel , probability is that it flowed past Rampur Boalia and terminates into Meghna estuary. This river is one of the most important rivers of Bangladesh and was also one of the main drinking sources along with trade and transportation since the 17th century. Ever since the 20th century, the river turned polluted. Hazardous pollutants like polythene, industrial and household sewage, plastics and even dead man and animals spoiled the river water in a grand scale. According to recent reports, 4500 tons of solid waste is dumped into the river everyday from Dhaka. Despite of every effort made to keep this river clean, it still remains a mess.

3. Mantanza-Riachuelo River, Argentina-


Originating in the capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires, and empties into the Rio de la Plata, this river is known as the “slaughter creek” in English. It is 64 km long and defines the southern boundary of Buenos Aires federal district. This is a foul smelling river filled with toxic substances released from the household and industrial wastes. Millions of chemical wastes are being discharged in the water by petroleum companies resulting into water pollution. The government of Argentina including some pressure groups have tried controlling pollution but in vain.

2. Ganges River, India-


Ganges or Ganga, is considered to be the holiest river in Hinduism. It originates from the gangotri glacier in the western Himalayas, flows south and east through the Gangetic plain of north India entering Bangladesh and merges into the Bay of Bengal. It acts as a trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh. It is the second largest river in the Indian subcontinent and also was ranked as one of the five most polluted rivers in the world. Due to religious practices, this river has numerous pollutants ranging from household garbage in abundance to industrial wastes and toxic. Amplifying this, the religious offerings made to the river each day along with people bathing and disposal of dead bodies made the Ganges so polluted that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that people living in the vicinity of the river are vulnerable to cancer.

1. Citarum River, Indonesia-


Citarum river flows through the Indonesian province of West Java. It plays an important role in serving people great way by supplying water for irrigation and agriculture, industry, fishery and also in the electricity production. There are three hydroelectric power plant dams installed in this river. Despite of being generous, it is filled with tons of harmful substances from the industrial and domestic wastes. One can find bottles, plastic, rubber gloves, etc., floating on the surface making the river surface so densely covered by the solid wastes that the water can hardly be seen. It has disturbed the ecosystem severely. According to recent reports, the level of mercury is 100 times more than the legal amount. This has resulted in the dying of the river in certain parts.


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