Lung cancer around the Tata Steel steel plant is sometimes up to 50 percent more common than the national average. This is evident from figures from the Integrated Cancer Institute Netherlands, requested by EenVandaag. “This is very disturbing.”
For the period 2004 to 2018, we requested the data on the number of lung cancer patients per postcode from the Integrated Cancer Institute Netherlands (IKNL). A report by the GGD Kennemerland showed last June that lung cancer occurs on average 25 percent more often in Beverwijk than the national average.
Shocked by the numbers
And if you look by postcode area, that percentage is much higher in some places. For example, there is 51 percent more lung cancer than the national average in the 1941 postcode area, which is located in Beverwijk. The 1976 postcode area is located in Velsen, where there is 46 percent more lung cancer, and in the 1973 postcode area, 40 percent more, also in Velsen.
Chairman Thijs Merkx of the IKNL is shocked by these figures: “Then I look in the mirror and think: should we not have sounded the alarm to the population and governments sooner?
Smoking or air pollution
It is not clear why lung cancer is much more prevalent than average in that region. The GGD previously indicated that it may be due to both the smoking behavior of people and the air quality.
“In any case, we know that lung cancer comes from smoking, which is a very direct air pollution. And we also know that indirect air pollution can play a role. But more research should be done first,” Merkx says.
Figures exorbitantly high
General practitioner Luc Verkouteren, who has had a practice in IJmuiden for over 15 years, is not surprised by the new figures: “They confirm what we already know, namely that lung cancer rates are exorbitantly high around the Tata Steel factory. For people’s health. this is shocking and very disturbing. “
That smoking is the best-known cause of lung cancer, also acknowledges Cold. “But if you look at these data, you can no longer say that this is only due to smoking. There are many other substances that also cause lung cancer, such as benzene and PAX. Substances that are released in large quantities on the Tata Steel site and be thrown into the air without filtering. “
Soot around eyes, nose and mouth
Peter Kramer died in 2009 from lung cancer. He lived in Beverwijk with his wife Marianne where he had a landscaping business and garden center. He also worked in the gardens on the Blast Furnace site.
Marianne saw that after a working day he sometimes came home black with dust: “He then had soot around his eyes, nose and mouth. Sometimes his teeth were even black.” When Kramer became too ill to work, his garden center was closed.
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In 2009 Marianne Kramer lost her husband Peter to lung cancer. For years he maintained the garden around Tata Steel. New figures show that much more lung cancer occurs around the factory than national average. “I hope they will do something about it.”
Tata Steel one of the causes
Whether her husband actually became ill from the presence of the steel factory cannot be said, but Marianne Kramer herself thinks it had an influence.
“I think there are several causes for a disease and that Tata Steel is one of them. But it can also be caused by smoking. Some people have lived here all their lives, smoke and get nothing.”
‘Economy wins from health’
The province of Noord-Holland will soon come up with a future plan for a cleaner Tata Steel. The plan contains measures to ensure that the environment of the factory is better protected against unhealthy emissions.
But general practitioner Verkouteren has little confidence in this: “The government listens to Tata Steel and not the other way around, with the result that they always receive exemptions so that they can exceed the environmental permits time and again. Economy wins over health.”
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