2. Cleveland, OH
To Cleveland’s credit, they stopped dumping their garbage into Lake Erie (which happens to be their source of drinking water as well) about three decades ago. Even so, the city hasn’t had much time to recover from the amount of trash they’ve spread around their vicinity, especially since it’s a major center of heavy industry in the country, and generates a significant amount of toxic waste.
A recent EPA study analyzed the soil in and around Cleveland and determined that it had significant quantities of plenty of nasty metals, including arsenic, selenium, barium, mercury, lead, and cadmium.
All of them combine to make the city a pretty nasty cesspool, especially since there’s little effort to stop the major companies that are polluting the area due to the economic depression affecting Cleveland.
The ArcelorMittal plant in particular vents chemicals into the sky, land, and water that have extremely negative health effects, but also employs thousands of Clevelanders (many of whom likely live in the near vicinity of the plant). Cleveland has escaped some of the industrial disasters that have affected other major cities on this list, but the overall picture hasn’t been particularly bright.
Cleveland has taken on many innovations in order to generate an image of self-sustainability and green practices, but the compilation of over a hundred years of heavy manufacturing has done damage that may take many lifetimes to erase.
Today, it’s become a place where the soil itself is considered harmful, as the Ohio EPA noted that they would not allow a dredge of the Cuyahoga River to dump the sediment in Lake Erie, since this would increase the number of toxins accumulating in the fish of the lake. Good enough for the river coming from the city, not good enough for the water coming into the city.