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Environment and health
Drinking water quality is an important environmental health problem in the country, both in urban and in rural areas. In towns, the main drinking water problems are low water quality and limited water supply. In rural areas, where wells provide a more substantial source of water, the problems include water shortages and contamination of drinking water sources with chemicals such as manganese, iron, hydrogen sulfide and nitrates. There is also extensive leakage into the underground pipes of chemicals from pesticides. On average, 25 percent of the samples of drinking water taken from piped water supply systems and private wells in the country do not meet the European Union quality standards.
The poor drinking water quality causes several diseases as cholera, hepatitis A, ontological illness, metabolic disorder, endocrine dysfunction, allergies and skin diseases (Khmelko, 2012; Kuzneyetsov, 2006).
Salinity problems are concentrated mostly in the southern region.
The Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 contaminated about 4.1 million ha. About 92 settlements around Chernobyl were evacuated. A strict radiological control has been applied over a larger zone. Due to the prevailing winds, most of the radioactivity fell on Belarus. At present, resettlement of areas from which people were relocated is ongoing.
Environmental damage following the accident affected fauna, vegetation, rivers, lakes and groundwater. The extent of the damage led scientists and government officials to the conclusion that the Chernobyl exclusion zone had been subjected to enough radioactive fallout to severely alter the ecological balance of the region for decades (Flanary, 2013).