After years of public speculation about the impact of pollution on some areas of the country, the Chinese Ministry of Environment Protection has finally confirmed the existence of “cancer villages.” The environmental ministry published a report that acknowledges the public health threat caused by toxic chemicals and hazardous smog. Chinese officials announced a five-year plan to deal with the harmful effects of air and water pollution.

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Growing industrial waste, chemical materials and hazardous smog have caused environmental emergencies linked to water and air pollution throughout China, resulting in serious health issues in some regions of the country. First reports of the existence of “cancer villages” date back to 2009 when investigative journalist Degn Fei published a map of China’s villages with cancer rates higher than normal. According to the map, over 100 villages in 27 provinces registered numerous cases of health and social problems related to cancer.

The Chinese government has avoided acknowledge the link between pollution and high cancer mortality rates. The government’s new environmental report is likely to be the first that uses the term “cancer village,” perhaps signaling a change.

The Ministry’s report entitled, “Guard against and control risks presented by chemicals to the environment during the 12th Five-Year period (2011-2015),” doesn’t elaborate on the problem and provides no technical definition of a “cancer village.” However, it recognizes the existence of “cancer villages,” which is, according to the country’s leading environmentalist Ma Jun, the first step in dealing with environmental and health consequences of years of rapid growth.

Via Huffington Post

Photos from Wikimedia Commons