Craft village: more well-off households, but more cancer deaths
VietNamNet Bridge - Van Mon craft village in Bac Ninh province has been well known in Vietnam as an aluminum recycling village for 50n years. It became even better known recently as a “cancer village”.

Vietnam, Man Xa craft village, cancer deaths

Lao Dong’s reporters, who were warned about serious environmental pollution in Man Xa Hamlet of Van Mon Commune, were surprised to ‘smell’ the pollution. 

The small village was pervaded with smoke when the reporters arrived. It was not smoke from families’ stoves or from straw burning after crops but from piles of aluminum scrap and iron kiln chimneys.

The thick smoke, in the scorching sun, was suffocating. Some of the reporters tried to hold their breath. 

More than 10,000 locals have been living and breathing the polluted air for years.

The elderly people in the village told reporters that they have to struggle for provisions every day with dust and smoke, which the call the ‘messenger’ of death.

“We understand that we are poisoning our lives ourselves. But we still keep this career to earn money for meals,” said Nguyen Van Thuc, an old man.

Pointing to the multi-story house in the distance looming in the dust, Thuc said Man Xa’s people are well off but are unhappy.

They have to live with piles of scrap materials lying in the village and mountains of waste which, when burnt, will produce thick black smoke and bring diseases.

A local resident said burning waste was the only way to dispose of the mountains of garbage.

“There is no dumping ground in the village. We have to treat waste ourselves,” she explained.

The craft villages in Yen Phong district of Bac Ninh province are famous in Vietnam for pollution levels. 

Man Xa remains the worst among these polluted villages. It has appeared in the latest Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment’s list of 37 “cancer villages”, where the percentage of cancer diseases is alarmingly high.

Nghiem Van Hung, an old man in Man Xa, said that previously, local people had the habit of hiding aluminum under beds and wardrobes, fearing that the aluminum might be stolen. 

Later, they discovered that their family members had become pale and contracted diseases. They thought that God visited calamities on them. At first, only several men in the village became ill. Later, many more others became seriously ill. 

Only when healthcare officers came and discovered that the water sources were polluted did people realize what had happened.

Lao Dong

Vietnam, Man Xa craft village, cancer deaths