South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
South Durban, the Cancer Valley

Press Release

Embargo: Monday, 18 September 2000

SDCEA notes with concern the latest reports on the link between air pollution and illness in the South Durban basin. In the latest Mercury report the association between air pollutants and cancers was highlighted.

This information just adds to the existing body of evidence that the health of people living and working in South Durban is being affected by emissions from industry in the area. For example, a study done by the medical school a few years ago showed that children in Merebank were much more likely than their counterparts in Chathsworth to have respiratory problems.

In the light of all this evidence, SDCEA makes the following demands: Firstly, that proper studies are done in South Durban to determine conclusively exactly what chemicals are contained in the cocktail (a range of toxic emissions) that we breathe each day. Not only must the individual chemicals be identified but we need to know what the levels are and what the peak levels are under adverse weather conditions.

Once we have the above data, a proper health study must be done which will be informed by the likely risks posed by the chemicals. This study must be scientifically designed and conducted so that at the end we have reliable evidence in regard to how the health of residents is or is not being affected by air pollution.

The people of South Durban have no intention of relocating. Instead, SDCEA calls on industry to clean up their act by using available technologies to substantially reduce their emissions. The air pollution caused by the industry in South Durban has implications for Durban as a city, as pollution knows no boundaries and should this situation not be rectified the health impacts are likely to spread across the bay into the city centre. This will also have adverse impacts on Durban's tourism potential and standing as a preferred global destination.