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US lab test finds cancer-causing elements in dust at Kodungaiyur

October 28, 2012

Times of India

CHENNAI: In April, members of the Community Environmental Monitoring, an environment NGO, said reports from a US-based laboratory showed the air quality in Kodungaiyur was poor. On Saturday, armed with another report, also from a US-based laboratory, on the nature of dust particles in the air in the locality, they claimed the situation has gotten more dangerous.

Everyday, on an average, 3,000 tonnes of garbage is dumped in Kodungaiyur, one of the two dumping yards of the Chennai Corporation. The dumped waste is untreated and gets mixed with hazardous bio-medical and non-biodegradable material.

The dust particles contain traces of metals such as nickel that can cause cancer and neurological disorders. "Dust particles leave residue in the lungs. Toxic substances and heavy metals in these dust particles can settle in a person's body leaving them at risk of developing a whole range of health problems, including cancer and respiratory disorders," said Shwetha Narayanan, coordinator of Community Environmental Monitoring, at a press conference.

The samples of dust were collected from the terrace of Perambur MLA A Sounderarajan's house in Kodungaiyur between February 15 and 16 and sent to the Chester laboratory in California. The test results showed the presence of magnesium, lead and nickel in the samples.

No health survey has been conducted on the residents of Kodungaiyur by any government or private agency, but residents say many people in the area suffer from respiratory disorders. Experts say lead and manganese are neurotoxins. "Medical literature and reports have shown that children are vulnerable to lead," said Nagaratna, a senior member of Ever Vigil Residents' Welfare Association in Kodungaiyur.

Sounderarajan said that long-term exposure to manganese could affect the central nervous system. "Air in Kodungaiyur is extremely polluted and makes life miserable for residents. During rains residents are forced to wade through water mixed with sewage and garbage," he said.

Residents will form a human chain on Monday against continuing dumping and burning of garbage in the area.

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