Near cement factories, high rate of larynx cancer

Near cement factories, high rate of larynx cancer
Published: 12 September 2006

Cement found to contain high level of toxins – one area sees 3.5 times national average.

The So-myeon district in Yeongwol, Gangwon Province, houses many cement

factories. It also has a larynx cancer rate more than three times the

national average.

The National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) has launched an

investigation in connection with the matter.

According to National Cancer Center (NCC) data, which was obtained by The

Hankyoreh yesterday, in the relatively small So-myeon area, four residents

developed cancer in their larynx between 1999 to 2005. This figure is about

3.5 times the one (1.15) expected patient during the same period, according

to national statistics.

In contrast, the overall incidence of cancer patients in the area was lower

than the national average. According to the NCC’s calculation, 45 of 4,538

So-myeon residents developed cancer between 1999 and 2002, 23 percent less

than the expected 61.34 cases.

Health experts are trying to determine if the dust from the area’s cement

factories explains the exceptional incidence of larynx cancer.

Researcher Hwang Seung-sik of the NCC said, "Smoking is a main cause of

larynx cancer, but there are reports saying that cement dust containing a

number of harmful materials also increases incidence of larynx cancer." It

was not said whether or not the four cancer patients were smokers.

This area is heavily concentrated with cement factories, with Ssangyong and

Hyundai cement in So-myeon proper, and Asia Cement in nearby Jecheon, North

Chungcheong Province. This area produces more than 20 percent of the

nation’s cement.

The NCC has confirmed that Yeongwol has a greater incidence of respiratory

and cardiac problems than other regions in Gangwon Province. Dust in the air

has a connection to these diseases; however, the NCC refused to reveal

specific data on those topics.

An NCC official said, "The NCC is mulling how to perform its investigation

after collecting opinions from experts. It will begin the investigation as

soon as possible."