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Officials Admit "Cancer Villages" Exist in China

02-21 17:28 Caijing
A widely-circulated Google map shows there are more than 100 cancer villages in China, while recent reports suggest the number could be over 400.

China's environment authority has for the first time admitted the existence of "cancer villages" in the country which it attributes to environment pollution, in its latest response to rising public awareness about air and water pollution.

 "Chemicals have been found in some rivers, lakes, inshore waters, as well as wide animals and human bodies in recent years," the Ministry of Environment Protection said in a plan it announced to "guard against and control risks presented by chemicals to the environment during the 12th Five-Year period (2011-2015)".

"The toxic chemicals have caused many environment emergencies linking to water and air pollutions," it said, "There are even some serious cases of health and social problems like the emergence of cancer villages in individual regions."

Large-scale production and consumption of some harmful chemicals, which are already forbidden by many developed countries, can still be found in China, the ministry said, adding such some of environment-unfriendly production capacities are shifting towards China.

According to a survey conducted by the ministry in 2010, 23 percent of polled oil, refining, chemical and medical companies would present a threat to nearby farmland and water sources while over half of these companies carry risks to the air within a 1-kilometer radius.

On Tuesday, the ministry set differentiated emission limits on new projects in six dirty industries including thermal power generation, iron and steel, petro-chemical, non-ferrous metals, etc. as well as on the existing projects in four of the six industries.

Map of China cancer villages

Cancer rates have surged in mainland China since the 1990s to become the nation's biggest killer. In 2010, Deng Fei, who is an investigative journalist, posted a widely circulated Google map showing more than 100 "cancer villages" in which cancer rate of the villagers is significant higher than average level.

The number of Chinese cancer villagers could exceed 247, covering 27 provinces, according to a paper by a university student, who made the research based on existing data, with 197 of them being confirmed. But recent researches, as citied by Xinhua, suggest the number could be over 400.

Air and water pollutions have become an increasingly hot-button topic in China, thanks to recent dangerous smog that blanked most eastern regions of China, as well as an online campaign launched by  Deng Fei targeting at water pollution. Photos of a chemical plant in Weifang, a city of Shandong province, "secretly discharging untreated waste water deep underground" have been diffusing online for the week.


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