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
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
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."