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Chemical ‘Snow’ Blankets Cancer-Hit Turkish Town

Chemical ‘Snow’ Blankets Cancer-Hit Turkish Town

 

Written by Jennifer Hattam, Treehugger

Winter appeared to have come early this year in Dilovası, an industrial suburb of Istanbul where residents awoke earlier this month to find treetops, laundry lines, backyard vegetable gardens, and greenhouse roofs dusted in white — but it wasn’t with snow.

The origins of the sticky white substance that has repeatedly rained down on Dilovası and neighboring towns are being investigated by government scientists, and local officials have said they will close down any factory determined to have created it “if necessary.” For now, the nearly 200 industrial facilities in the area, including steel smelting plants and paint-manufacturing operations, continue to operate as normal. Some of the 45,000 residents of the district say the response has been slow, and insufficient.

Local Farmers’ Crops Destroyed
Greenhouse owner Alaattin İllik told the Hürriyet Daily News that he had to call authorities dozens of times before a team was sent out to investigate, five days after locals first noticed the white substance, which İllik said had destroyed his cabbage and leek crops:

“My products were worth at least 20,000 Turkish Liras, but they are all destroyed now. I cannot sell these to anyone. I have to throw them away. This substance also covered the windows of my greenhouse and it blocks the sunshine.”

Cancer Rates High In Region
While the white substance has not yet been identified, residents have little reason to be optimistic about its effects on their health. In February, local environmental officials found that 1,000 tons of industrial sludge had been dumped in a vacant field between two villages in the Dilovası area. A month before that, the head of the Public Health Department at Kocaeli University released findings of “abnormally high” quantities of heavy metals in the breast milk of local mothers and the feces of their babies.

An earlier study by the medical faculty at the same university had shown record-high percentages of cancer-linked deaths in the Dilovası region.

Academic Targeted For Health-Risk Research
To date, authorities have denied any elevated health risk in the area, where industrial operations continue to expand. Two local mayors even filed a criminal charges against Professor Onur Hamzaoğlu, the author of the heavy-metals report, for allegedly trying to “spread fear and panic” with his research. The academic is now “the target of a university investigation that could lead to criminal prosecution and a four-year jail term,” according to the regional news portal EurasiaNet.org.

Despite the response to his earlier findings, Hamzaoğlu remains outspoken about the dangers facing Dilovası, calling for an independent panel to assess the mysterious white substance. “Of course it is not for the good of the public to neglect the subject like this,” he told the Turkish news site Bianet, adding the investigation was “a job that needed to be done systematically and promptly.”

This post was originally published by Treehugger.

 

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Photo from Ctd 2005 via flickr

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24 comments

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2:46PM PST on Nov 18, 2011

My heart goes out to them!

9:58PM PST on Nov 17, 2011

@ Ulli W. Having done a few analysis in my day, this can present an extraordinary challenge if you have no idea what your dealing with. 'White precipitate' describes damn near everything under the sun in the world of chemistry. Eliminative testing can be expensive and time consuming.

Harder yet will be establishing a forensic link from the fallout to a source, considering it may be synergistic, the product of a reaction between two or more different pollutants with two ro more origins and, perhaps, ordinary atmospheric compounds like oxygen and hydrogen.

Cancer clusters are always a concern, I hope that Turkey feels some pressure from the EU. Turkey has long been agitating to become a member of the EU, but been blocked by concern over their human rights abuses.

6:01PM PST on Nov 17, 2011

science will certainly identify composition of that white smear …
– are we about to be lucky for its white color?
What with all those industrial pollutants that remain unseen for whatsoeveer reason?

3:26PM PST on Nov 17, 2011

Alarming and frightening! Please investigate and do something now!

3:08PM PST on Nov 17, 2011

TURKEY IS WHERE THAT WASTE OF SKIN MAN HUMAN RAPED A DOG AND IT KILLED THE DOG , PEOPLE HEARD THE DOG SCREAMING AND NO ONE HELPED, THIS JUST MAY BE .... WHAT GOES AROUND ...COMES AROUND !
I DO NOT FEEL BAD FOR THAT COUNTRY !!!

1:09PM PST on Nov 17, 2011

horrible

10:03AM PST on Nov 17, 2011

So the uber rich have started already to do whatever they can to exterminate the poor--so they can swoop down on any property left by the poor and grab everything.

9:35AM PST on Nov 17, 2011

URGENT PLEASE NOTE:

If you sign a petition above, many other petitions are then presented for you to sign;

BEWARE OF THE PETITIONS YOU SIGN WITHOUT READING IT FIRST. A PETITION WILL COME UP FROM "CREATIVE AMERICA". IF YOU READ IT CAREFULLY THEY ARE ACTUALLY TRYING TO TAKE YOUR INTERNET FREEDOM AWAY. DON'T BE FOOLED BY THE WORDS "PROTECT WORKERS" IN THE TITLE!!!!! IT'S THE "SOPA ACT" THEY'RE TRYING TO GET YOU TO ENDORSE!!!

They have stooped to a NEW low posting a petition like that on this website. They would like to control WHAT you see and WHERE you go on the INTERNET.

To learn the truth, visit: SavetheInternet.com A coalition of two million everyday people who have banded together with thousands of nonprofit organizations, businesses and bloggers to protect Internet freedom.

7:47AM PST on Nov 17, 2011

thanks.

7:21AM PST on Nov 17, 2011

As usual throughout the world during these deliberately population-decimating-times, the government - including research and medical, will be paid off hugely and threatened if they divulge anything to the public. The Turks won't get any help there. Open your eyes people! These types of things are happening all over the world.

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