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Amid Booming Investment, Pollution Elevates Cancer Rates in Vietnam's Villages

While Vietnam's rural areas continue to develop, expand and economically prosper, their environmental conditions have not necessarily improved.

As more foreign enterprises do business in Vietnam, hazardous consequences have left local residents increasingly wary over pollution in their areas, reports VietnamNet.

The case study of a village in Hanoi called Trat Cau details the shortcomings of growth in rural villages. The chairman of the Trat Cau Traditional Villages Association, Nguyen Quang Tha, told the news source that foreign investment in blanket, bed sheets and pillow production village has grown exponentially, with up to 30 different corporations now operating there.

"The Trat Cau Village is like a big workshop which runs all day, every day,” he said. With this comes concerns over noise and dust pollution, as well as workshop fires, several of which are reported every year. As development focuses on factories, Tha told the newspaper that the village only has 1,200 square meters of farming space, and can only produce one crop. 

In 2015, the National Center for Water Resources Planning and Investigation, under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, composed a list of 37 ‘cancer villages,’ or villages whose living conditions greatly increase health risks for residents.

Man Xa Village in Bac Ninh Province was among those in the list. In 2015, 10 cancer-related deaths occurred there. In 2017, that number rose to 13, and in 2018 again rose to 15, the news source shares. The village collects and recycles waste, including soft drink cans, which pollutes the air via aluminum processing workshops.

Local residents are known to suffer from respiratory diseases and heart failure. Nghiem Xuan Xo, an environmental worker, plans to replace the current aluminum processing machines, which discharge more than 20 tons of coal residue per day, with more eco-friendly ones. 

According to CNBC, Hasbro, multi-national toy company, and Apple are both considering plans to move jobs and production to Vietnam. While the economic contribution of these moves is generally positive, the situations in places like Trat Cau and Man Xa show that environmental standards and regulations must be strictly enforced at the same time.

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