Greenpeace health studies confirm rise in disease and death due to unmitigated industrial pollution

Press release - September 10, 2003
COCHIN, India — Greenpeace today confirmed that the unchecked pollution at Eloor industrial estate near Cochin has resulted in increased rates of disease and death amongst the local population Diseases like Cancer, congenital birth-defects, Bronchitis, Asthma, Allergic Dermatitis and Stomach Ulcers were found to be extremely common in Eloor according to a Cross sectional Epidemiological study conducted by Greenpeace and medical teams from Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Mumbai with support and advice from Community Health Cell, Bangalore, NIMHANS , Bangalore and St. John’s Medical College Bangalore.

According to the first level findings of the study "Status of Human Health at Eloor Industrial Estate, Kerala", in comparison to the less polluted Pindimana in the same district , the chances that Eloor citizens will contract Cancer are 2.85 times higher. Children are 2.63 times at higher risk of malformation due to congenital and chromosomal aberrations. Chances of death due to an accident are 2.7 times higher. Chances that children may die due to Birth Defects have increased 3.8 times. Death due to Bronchitis at Eloor is up by 3.4 times. Death due to Asthma in Eloor is up by 2.2 times.

"A poisoned river means a dying people. This much is clear. This Corporate sponsored genocide must be stopped immediately. In the light of the findings of this study, the state must wake up from its slumber and take immediate action. Zero Discharge on the river, Clean Production at Eloor/Edayar and Compensation/Medical Rehabilitation of all the people affected must be immediately implemented. Although the study awaits global peer-review the findings were shocking enough for us to release them immediately so that these corrective remediation actions in the spirit of the Precautionary Principle are taken", according to Manu Gopalan, Toxics campaigner of Greenpeace India.

Greenpeace has been performing scientific investigations on contamination of the River Periyar and the waterways of the Eloor Industrial Belt for over four years. The first round of sampling in 1999 focussed on the serious threat posed by Hindustan Insecticides Ltd on the waterways of Eloor. Greenpeace appointed V.J Jose as the riverkeeper to monitor levels of pollution and to compile weekly reports on the river's health. The River keeper's report shows abnormal rise in the temperature of the Periyar and the high presence of Heavy metals like Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Chromium, and Zinc.

"I'm watching my river die today. We're all like the people waiting pensively by the death-bed of a loved one. The state which has all the power to save my river is indifferent. People have lost faith in the system. If the people of Cochin come together with strength and conviction we can save our river NOW." Said VJ Jose, Periyar Riverkeeper.


1 NIMHANS - National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, Bangalore.

For more information:Namrata Chowdhary, Media Officer - 9810850092

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For more information:Manu Gopalan, Toxics Campaigner - 9811608036

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