Water and air polluted: War causes billions in environmental damage causing disease


water and air pollutedWar causes billions of dollars in environmental damage

One of the victims of the Ukrainian war is the environment, which is heavily polluted by shelling and leaking toxins. This will keep the country busy for years to come.

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Shells and chemical components of war material pollute the soil and groundwater in Ukraine.

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Huge amounts of environmental toxins are released during the bombing.

Huge amounts of environmental toxins are released during the bombing.


Experts say it will take years for the damage to be somewhat repaired.

Experts say it will take years for the damage to be somewhat repaired.

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Environmental damage v Ukraine are, according to experts, devastating after more than eight months of war. Russian attacks on fuel depots released toxins into the air and groundwater. The scale is so great that biodiversity and climate stability are threatened in many regions of the country. At the same time, there are serious consequences for the health of the population.

According to environmental organization WWF, more than six million Ukrainians now have little or no access to clean drinking water and more than 280,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed. The Audit Chamber, a Ukrainian non-governmental organization, estimates that the financial damage caused by the destruction of the environment as a result of the war exceeds 35 billion Swiss francs.

“This environmental pollution caused by war will not go away. Our descendants will have to deal with planting forests or cleaning polluted rivers,” says Dmytro Averin, an environmental expert from the Swiss organization Zoi Environment Network. The industrial regions in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where fighting has been going on since 2014, are worst off. But there is also great damage in other parts of Ukraine.

Dirty tap water

“In addition to casualties from the fighting, war is also hell for people’s health, both physical and mental,” said Rick Steiner, an American environmental expert who advised the Lebanese government on environmental issues after the 2006 war. It can take years for the health effects of contaminated water and exposure to toxins to become apparent.

Residents of the village of Demydiv report that their drinking water was cloudy and tasted funny after the March floods. It left a coating on the pots after cooking. After Russian troops withdrew from the region in April, Ukrainian authorities supplied drinking water to Demydiv with tankers. Due to vehicle damage, residents have had to use contaminated water again since October.

Farmers lost ‘everything they harvested’

Already in April, the research initiative Reach mentioned in a report the increased pollution by nitrogen dioxide, which is released by the burning of fossil fuels, in the regions west and southwest of Kyiv. Direct contact can cause skin irritation and burns, and long-term respiratory diseases and damage to vegetation are possible.

Even the one for them Ukrainian economy the important agricultural sector suffers massively from the war. The fires have decimated crops and livestock, destroyed thousands of hectares of forest and prevented farmers from doing their jobs, says Serhiy Sibtsev, a forestry scientist at Ukraine’s National Agricultural University. Some farmers “lost everything they harvested for the winter.”

Doug Weir of the British Conflict and Environment Observatory emphasizes that governments have a duty to protect people from environmental risks, especially in the event of war. However, some Ukrainians have little hope left. “I am depressed – there is water all around and under my house,” says Taťána Samoilenko, who lives in Demydiv. “I don’t think that much will change in the future.”

Also on that Ecosystem in the Black Sea the war has disastrous consequences: thousands of dolphins have already become victims of the war. They are injured by bombs and mines, disoriented by the sound of explosions, and often go days without eating.


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