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Top-5 ‘toxic’ documentaries inspired by 2018's word of the year

'Toxic’ has been declared word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary because it sums up the “ethos, mood, or preoccupations” of 2018. It's a word we're all familiar with in both its literal and figurative meanings. Its original definition though, which refers to poisonous substances, has inspired us to compile our own toxic list! Here's a selection of compelling documentary films exploring or exposing man's impact on the environment and health.

Inferno Village

The village of Jharia should be thriving because it boasts the largest coal reserves in India; instead it is constantly engulfed in smoke from a seam that has been smouldering underground for 100 years. The coal however provides many local people with their only source of income but as the spreading fire regularly destroys houses, toxic fumes from it cause serious health problems.


A short drive from Ghana's capital, Accra, would take you to the biggest electronics dump site on the planet. Discarded phones, TVs, laptops and other digital detritus from across the world all end up in Agbogbloshie, now one of the most polluted areas in Africa. Surrounded by toxins and toxic metals, local residents, struggling to make ends meet, break up and burn e-waste releasing hazardous and often carcinogenic substances.

Vietnam: My Orange Pain

During the Vietnam War, US troops deployed more than 20 million gallons of herbicide, mainly Agent Orange, to defoliate large areas of rain forest. The objective was to deprive the North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces of ground cover and crops. More than forty years after the war, the highly toxic chemical, dioxin, a key Agent Orange ingredient, is still taking its toll on the environment and the people who were exposed to it.

Fuming Felix 

Italy’s Campania region is famed for its natural beauty and glorious food but decades of illegal dumping by mafia groups have turned it into a “Land of Fire”. Millions of tons of hazardous industrial waste from all over Europe are either burned or buried in illicit landfill sites. Heavily polluted soil, ground water and air have resulted in soaring cancer and child mortality rates in the local population.

Spoils of Destruction

A palm oil company operating in Borneo has pushed one indigenous village to the brink of destruction. For years, it has advanced on the villagers’ ancestral rainforest, felling trees for future plantations and contaminating the rivers and soil with pesticides.