[health-vn] Polluted groundwater suspected as cancer deaths surge
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Fri May 15 15:24:35 EST 2009
Last Updated: Friday, May 15, 2009 11:22:10 Vietnam (GMT+07)
Polluted groundwater suspected as cancer deaths surge
Residents of Rach Cheo Commune in Ca Mau Province’s Phu Tan District meet with
doctors from Ca Mau General Hospital on May 8. Ngo Thi Diec’s 34-year-old
daughter has been confined to her bed for the last month after being diagnosed
with liver cancer.
Diec’s husband died in February 2008 of lung cancer. She and her son have been
diagnosed recently with hepatitis.
Diec and other residents of Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Chanh District strongly
suspect the plethora of diseases besetting them, including the high incidence of
cancer, is caused by underground water pollution.
Diec’s family resettled in the district’s Binh Tri Dong A Ward in 2001, and
began using underground water for cooking and boiling water to drink.
No tap water is supplied to the place which is surrounded by many plants
producing leather shoes, rubber and screws as well as recycling metal wire and
plastic bags, all activities that seriously pollute the environment.
“It’s unbearable that all my family members have contracted diseases,”
Diec said. “We had bought expensive water filters to protect our health.”
She has requested local authorities to have the groundwater tested, but there
has been no response yet.
Other residents of the ward are also living in fear as cancer deaths have
One resident, known only as Bay N., died last year of lung cancer.
He had earlier requested local authorities repeatedly to relocate an aluminum
plant next to his house, which he believed to have caused pollution and affected
locals’ health. Shortly after the plant moved out of the ward, he was diagnosed
with terminal stage cancer.
Thanh Nien visited the site early this week and found the air was seriously
polluted and foul odors were emitted by dozens of production plants located
inside the residential area.
Residents said some plants have been moved, but others remained, polluting the
environment with no waste treatment.
One resident said she had caught a plant producing electric wires discharging
used acid directly to the canal and the street.
A ward official, who was informed of the case, visited the place only to glance
at it before leaving, she said.
Meanwhile, many residents in a commune in Ca Mau Province are also worried about
rising cancer cases in their midst but are yet to pinpoint the cause.
Kieu Hoai Ha, secretary of the party unit of Rach Cheo Commune in the province’s
Phu Tan District, said he had requested scientists and authorities to find out
if polluted underground water was causing the increase in cancer cases.
A local medical team met recently with the residents to study the problem, but
have reached no conclusions.
Nguyen Van Sang says there are many more cancer deaths in the ward than reported
by the commune medical center.
“Nguyen Van Nghiem and Nguyen Van Thanh, died of cancer but they are not named
in the report,” he said.
Sang said he has a tumor and his daughter has been treated by a hospital in HCMC
for the same problem.
Ca Mong Cam said her father-in-law had died of cancer and her mother-in-law is
now suffering the same disease.
Another resident, Ca Thi Ut, was diagnosed with cancer recently. Her father had
died early this year of the same disease.
Residents say around 20 people in 60 families living on the side of the Tu Ga
Canal in Rach Cheo Commune have died of cancer in the past 10 years and dubbed
the area the “cancer neighborhood.”
Reported by Minh Nam – Gia Bach
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