Dzerzhinsk, Russia: Toxic Town


By Michael J. Lynch, University of South Florida, FL


Dzerzhinsk, Russia is an example of a toxic town (see toxic town entry in this dictionary). In Dzerzhinsk the toxic problem is related to exposure of the population to a combination of military chemical waste as well as industrial waste.

During the “Soviet” period, Dzerzhinsk was a primary site for the manufacture of chemical weapons. The Blacksmith Institute reports that Dzerzhinsk is one of the ten most polluted cities in the world ( Blacksmith report; see also Scientific American’s list, Scientific American list; see also Scientific American 2014 update, volume 310, number 21 ). Average life expectancy for Dzerzhinsk residents is less than 50 years for women and less than 45 years for men.

It is difficult to locate official studies of health or environmental issues in Dzerzhinsk in academic journal or in English language sources (e.g., Drechsel and Wilcke, 1999). As a consequence, little specific detail is available on this toxic city.
Further Reading

In this dictionary see:”Toxic Towns” entry


Drechsel, Pay, and Wolfgang Wilcke. 1999. Heavy metal concentrations in urban and periurban soils of Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Dzerzhinsk, and Serpukhov, Russia. International Journal of Environmental Studies 57, 1: 53-65

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