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La Oroya, Peru

La Oroya, in the Peruvian Andes, has been a mining settlement since 1533 and the site of a poly-metallic smelter since 1922. La Oroya produces gold and silver (mainly from refinery residues), antimony, arsenic trioxide, bismuth, cadmium, indium, selenium, tellurium, sulfuric acid and oleum.
The area is highly contaminated by mining waste and by dust and acidic fumes from the smelter. Years of pollution has resulted in loss of trees and vegetation, toxic water and polluted air. A 1999 study showed high levels of air pollution, with 85 times more arsenic, 41 times more cadmium, and 13 times more lead than amounts generally considered safe. Surveys have also confirmed high blood lead levels in children and sulfur dioxide levels that exceed WHO limits.

Approx area depicted: 19 km2
Date of image: 2021

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