| Jun 24, 2022
How is life in the most polluted city on earth?
The heavily polluted Quilacocha lake.
Cerro de Pasco is known for being the highest city on the planet, at 4350 meters over the sea level. But it is also one of the most polluted places on earth. The giant open pit mine that dominate the town since more than 60 years has created enormous environmental and social problems, especially for children and youth.
A reportage made by our photographer Stefano Sbrulli and published by The Washington Post shown what does it mean to live so high up in the Andes, but also what does it mean to live in such polluted area.
Research has shown that Cerro de Pasco “has been excessively contaminated with heavy metals due to high mining activities in the region.” The study, published in the journal Nature, adds that “heavy metals exposure contributes to the development of major diseases such as cancer and respiratory, neurological, and kidney diseases, and eventually drives to death.”
Furthermore, the economic situation of the city has not improved at all: “despite millions of dollars generated by over 400 years of mining exploitation, today Cerro de Pasco is one of the poorest cities in Peru. The health system is almost nonexistent, the educational system is close to collapse … The inhabitants of Cerro de Pasco live in a situation of social and economic exclusions.”
Recent investigations also shown that the IQ of the children of Cerro de Pasco is significantly lower than their peer in the neighboring communities. That investigation also shown the direct link between lead exposure and lower IQ. The pollution of the mine is denying the future of an entire generation. From that the title of Sbrulli’s reportage Donde los niños no sueñan; Where children do not dream.
The processing plant