Eastern Europe & Central Asia,
Air Pollution, Heavy Metals
air, water, soil
Potentially affected people:
The smelter town of Karabash lies in the Chelyabinskaya region of the south Urals, 1,300 kilometers southeast of Moscow. The town originally developed due to large copper deposits and in 1910 a smelter was built here specializing in the production of 'blister copper'. Immense sulfur dioxide emissions, fall-out of metal-rich particulates and mounds of black slag are thought to be responsible for higher incidences of birth defects, skin diseases and internal organ failure among the residents of this town.
The results of a survey conducted by the Chelyabinsk Provincial Institute for Public Health and Environment in 1994 in Karabash were so bad that the provincial Ministry for the Environment classified it as an Ecological Disaster Zone. They found that children from Karabash were considerably smaller than children from the control group, had 3.5 times more birth defects, 2.7 times more skin diseases and suffered from heavy metal poisoning
This site was visited by Blacksmith Institute. The health effects to the local population caused by the smelter were partly acknowledged by health and municipal authorities. The issues of priority here are relocating people living in the buffer zone elsewhere and installation of pollution control devices in the smelter.