Industrial Pollution Creates Cancer Village in China





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Uploaded on Dec 12, 2008

It was once an isolated haven, but now a northern Chinese village surrounded by factories is paying a heavy price for economic progress. Almost every family has fallen prey to cancer.

Waste from factories producing rubber, paint, plastic and other chemicals have blackened streams, poisoned farmland and choked the air, creating deadly pollution clusters that locals call "cancer villages.”

One in fifty people in the village of Liukuaizhuang and in a neighboring hamlet have
been diagnosed with cancer over the last decade - around 25 times higher than the national average.

A series of low-key Communist reforms for the pastoral retreat was initiated in December, 1978. The reforms created an economic boom - but at a terrible price - someone in almost every family is dead or dying of cancer.

One villager agreed to be interviewed but asked to remain anonymous for fear of persecution after years of petitioning to environmental authorities and media to improve conditions.

[Lung Cancer Patient, Requesting Anonymity]:
"They (the doctors) asked me in the hospital whether my family had history of cancer. I said no. In three previous generations, no one had cancer. I think it must have a lot to do with the pollution here."

Locals authorities refused to pay for his medical expenses because he gave interviews to foreign media several years ago. Now he seems resigned to his fate, but is concerned for the next generation.

[Lung Cancer Patient, Requesting Anonymity]:
"Worried? Of course I am worried, but what is the use of being worried? We should care about the next generation, what about their future?"

Industrial waste and overuse of fertilizers, pesticides, hormones and steroids all cause damage to the lungs, liver and stomach. Cancer ranks as the most deadly disease in China.

[Gao Zhong, Environmental Economist]:
"I know that scientists have done serious research on the issue. They used guinea pigs for research, and fed them with water or food from the polluted areas, and because pollutants such as heavy metals, mercury and lead have already entered the food chain, all these chemicals will affect the normal function of cells.”

High levels of bacteria, fluoride and cancer-causing chemicals exceeding government limits have been found in the rivers of Liukuaizhuang.

Senior officials from the city environmental watchdog paid several visits to the area and shut down a series of factories.

But as often happens in China, orders from central authorities were ignored and factories continued secretly to discharge untreated waste into the surrounding environment.

The world economic slowdown has lessened the demand for Chinese factory products and Beijing has responded with a $586 billion U.S. dollar stimulus package.

It remains to be seen, however, if any of that money will be invested in improving the environment.


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