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The 15 most toxic places to live

Mountaintop removal mining

Photo: Jeff Gentner/AP

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Appalachia, West Virginia

Mountaintop removal mining is one of the world's most environmentally destructive practices, and it is most associated with coal mining in West Virginia's Appalachian Mountains. Whole mountaintops are removed to get to the coal, which increases erosion and runoff thick with pollutants, poisoning streams and rivers throughout the region.