Pollution from shuttered arsenic mines and plants continues to affect Chinese villagers

July 28, 2014

(Jason Lee/Reuters)

Above: A villager washes clothes in a river in Heshan, a village with a population of about 1,500 in China’s Hunan province. Beginning in the 1950s, mines and chemical plants mushroomed in the area, which is rich in realgar, or arsenic disulphide.

(Jason Lee/Reuters)

(Jason Lee/Reuters)

Left: Qin Zhengyu, 78, a Heshan resident who has skin cancer, shows tumors on her fingers. The area’s mines and plants were shut down in 2011 due to the pollution they caused, but dust and runoff from arsenic continues to affect people who live in the village.

Right: Qin Wenji, 82, who has skin cancer, watches television in his bedroom. In the two decades preceding 2010, 157 villagers from Heshan died of cancer caused by arsenic poisoning and another 190 developed cancer due to arsenic poisoning, the villagers wrote in a letter seeking compensation and aid from the local government.

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