Two thirds of Vladivostok's suburbs are so polluted that living in them is classified as a health hazard, according to the local ecological specialists, Ecocenter. Some areas, such as those near the printing works in Pokrovsky Park and the Far Eastern State University campus, are so polluted that they are defined as ecological disaster zones. Only a few areas have permissible levels of contamination. Professor Boris Preobrazhensky, a top ecologist at the Pacific Institute of Geography said that There is nowhere in the area that is really healthy to live.
The Ecocenter report has taken 10 years to compile and is believed to be the most comprehensive of its kind. It was based on analysis of over 30,000 samples of water, snow, soil, air and human tissues taken between 1985 and 1993. Samples showed significant rises over that period in the levels of heavy metals, such as cadmium, zirconium, cobalt, arsenic, and mercury, which severely affect the respiratory and nervous systems.
The pollution has a number of causes, according to Ecocenter geo-chemical expert Sergei Shlikov. Vladivostok has about 80 industrial sites which may not be many compared to Russia's most industrialized areas, but those around the city are particularly environmentally unfriendly, such as shipbuilding and repairing, power stations, printing, fur farming and mining , he said. In addition, Vladivostok has a particularly vulnerable geography which compounds the effect of the pollution. Winds cannot clear pollution from some of the most densely populated areas around the Pervaya and Vtoraya Rechka as they sit in basins which the winds blow over. In addition there is little snow in winter and no leaves or grass to catch the dust to make it settle.