Mafia's toxic dumping 'increases cancer rates'

Widespread dumping of toxic waste by Mafia clans in the southern region of Campania is causing a dramatic increase in birth defects and cancer, according to a group of US and Italian scientists.

Their warning comes a month after The Independent reported how crime groups in southern Italy were earning €20bn a year by illegally burying heavy metals and cancer-causing organic compounds, often in agricultural areas or on land used to build homes.

Dr Antonio Giordano of The Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research at Temple University, in Philadelphia, said his team's review of the evidence showed the link between toxic dumping and higher rates of cancers, serious birth defects and death, was now "difficult to deny". The survey suggests that in areas of Campania plagued by illegal dumping, birth defects of the urogenital and central nervous systems were more than 80 per cent higher than normal. The incidence of key cancers in contaminated areas, including those of the lung, liver and alimentary canal, appears to be around 12 per cent higher. The review will appear in the journal Cancer Biology & Therapy.

Fears for the health of residents in the afflicted area of Campania, known as "the triangle of death", which includes the towns of Nola, Acerra and Marigliano, have been growing for years. Another of the researchers, Dr Maddalena Barba, of the Human Health Foundation in Terni, said: "Three decades of illegal management of waste have made this region unique in the context of waste and disease."

Last month, a report by the environmental group Legambiente revealed that authorities last year seized a record two million tonnes of dangerous waste, mostly from Northern Italy, on its way for disposal, often in the one of Italy's four southernmost regions, Sicily, Calabria, Campania and Puglia, where the country's four main Mafia groups hold sway.

It said, however, that Campania, the region around Naples, was the area worst hit by Mafia-linked environmental damage. The local crime syndicate, the Camorra, is frequently blamed for exacerbating or even causing the regional rubbish collection crisis – by encouraging the closure of official incineration plants – to fan demand for its illegal dumping services.

Dr Giordano said he had come under fire from some politicians in the region. But he has vowed to continue exposing the health effects of toxic dumping and called on the authorities to prioritise the clean-up of affected areas.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea