Call for new mechanism to evaluate anti-pollution efforts

Updated: 2013-03-19 07:42

By Wu Wencong (China Daily)

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The incidence of malignant tumors should be used as an index to measure the government's performance in combating environmental pollution, according to a leading medical expert.

Hua Yawei, deputy head of the Henan Tumor Hospital and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, made the suggestion in a proposal to the body, calling for the introduction of the first pollution index directly related to human health.

"The mechanism of cancer is not entirely clear, but a large number of epidemiological investigations and basic research have confirmed that it is closely related to the degree of pollution in the environment we live in, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the lifestyles we lead," said Hua in his proposal.

Former health minister Chen Zhu also said in an earlier interview with China Daily that although the relationship between smog and lung cancer requires further research and monitoring, preliminary statistics from hospitals have indicated that cases of acute respiratory and cardiovascular diseases rise during heavily smoggy weather.

In his proposal, Hua said a variety of chemical substances have been detected in a number of China's rivers, lakes, coastal waters and even in the bodies of wild animals and humans in recent years. The concentration of persistent pollutants and chemicals such as heavy metals and dangerous organic compounds that can disrupt the endocrine system are higher than the international norm in some regions.

A recent statement from the Environmental Protection Ministry acknowledged that recent years have seen many pollution incidents caused by toxic and hazardous chemicals, including the emergence of several "cancer villages", villages that have witnessed an unusually high incidence of cancers, possibly because of high levels of pollution.

"Pollution is causing serious health and social problems," said Hua.

"But the current environmental monitoring indicators are all quantifiable figures, such as the level of sulfur dioxide and fine particles in airborne pollutants, with no indication of their impact on human health."

(China Daily 03/19/2013 page8)