August 2021. Mariupol, Ukraine. Artem Vlasov, 41, and his son Matvey at the beach near the Azovstal steelworks. Artem used to work at the steel plant, the major employer of the industrial city.
According to a Ukrainian Ecology Ministry report in 2016, Azov Stal produced 78,600 tons of atmospheric pollutants and poured 1.4 million cubic meters of waste into the Azov Sea. In 2018 Ukraine's Health Ministry warned the public to avoid swimming at any of the beaches around Mariupol. Azovstal has lost 70 % of its production since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. Mariupol residents are exposed to 10 times more industrial pollution than the average Ukrainian. Itâs the second most-polluted city in Ukraine, according to the Central Geophysical Observatory, a state agency. One in five residents dies of lung cancer.