China’s “Cancer Villages” Bear Witness to Economic Boom

Reuters looks at the “cancer villages” that have sprung up around the heavily polluted river running through Shangba, Guangdong:

The river’s flow ranges from murky white to a bright shade of orange and the waters are so viscous that they barely ripple in the breeze. In Shangba, the river brings death, not sustenance.

“All the fish died, even chickens and ducks that drank from the river died. If you put your leg in the water, you’ll get rashes and a terrible itch,” said He Shuncai, a 34-year-old rice farmer who has lived in Shangba all his life.

“Last year alone, six people in our village died from cancer and they were in their 30s and 40s.”

Cancer casts a shadow over the villages in this region of China in southern Guangdong province, nestled among farmland contaminated by heavy metals used to make batteries, computer parts and other electronics devices.

Every year, an estimated 460,000 people die prematurely in China due to exposure to air and water pollution, according to a 2007 World Bank study.

Read more about “cancer villages” via CDT.