There are many studies done to identify the genetic hazard from occupational exposure of workers, but rather little is known about genetic effects in inhabitants of polluted areas. The aim of the study was to examine chromosome aberrations, sister chromatid exchanges and number of micronuclei in lymphocytes of persons living in the close vicinity of a large metallurgical plant. The results were compared with those obtained for the inhabitants of a village located 40 km from the city of Cracow and from the plant. An increased incidence of chromosome aberrations (0.66-4.66%, control 0.78%), sister chromatid exchanges (mean 9.73, control: 6.0) was found in the group living near the steel foundry. The paper also includes some data on measurements of the air pollution in the Nowa Huta region as well as on the amounts of heavy metals in vegetables in this region. Environmental pollution is worsening.