Polluted water blamed for ‘cancer villages’ in Vietnam

05/02/2015 8:22:23 SA

Water for drinking and sanitation in 37 villages across northern and central Vietnam is seriously contaminated and is the main cause behind many cancer cases, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
“The most common problem at these villages is the use of water from polluted sources,” Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted Ho Minh Tho, an official of the ministry in charge of water resources, as saying.
According to a study by the environment ministry, in these 37 “cancer villages”, a total of 1,136 people died from cancer in the past 20 years.
Thach Khe in Phu Tho Province had 139 cancer-related deaths.
The study also found that 380 people living near these 37 villages also died to cancer.
Tho, one of the researchers, said 814 water samples collected at these villages were seriously contaminated with bacteria. They also contained traces of various chemicals and contaminants, including iron, aluminum, cadmium, benzene and arsenic.
Polluted elements have been found in both ground and underground water sources, he said.
But what's next for the residents in these villages, which still lack access to safe drinking water and have to depend on rivers and underground wells?
Tho said the priority is to improve water supply.
“We have proposed more thorough research and clean water supply for ten villages with the most seriously polluted water sources,” he said.