Libmonster is the largest world open library, repository of author's heritage and archive

Register & start to create your original collection of articles, books, research, biographies, photographs, files. It's convenient and free. Click here to register as an author. Share with the world your works!

Libmonster ID: RU-14269
Author(s) of the publication: AMELIA GENTLEMAN

Share with friends in SM

Toxic dust blamed for disease

Long ignored, the environmental damage caused by the Soviet's grandiose cotton grown scheme is now being evaluated in human terms.

MUYNAK, Uzbekistan - The people of Karakalpakstan have come to fear the dust storms that sweep across this region, whipping up grit from the sandy basin of the dried up Aral Sea and depositing it in a fine layer over their homes. For a few moments, the day is darkened, the sky turns gray and suddenly the choking dust is everywhere - scratching at eyes, grazing throats.

Over the past few years, these heavy, gusting clouds of grime have become more frequent; scientists recently named the area the dustiest place on earth. But at the root of locals' fears is not the quantity of dust, but the highly poisonous toxins it contains and the sickness and disease it brings.

Most people here believe that the dust is the main cause of the dire health problems: epidemic levels of tuberculosis, debilitating respiratory illnesses, widespread kidney problems, high infant mortality, rampant anaemia and painful intestinal ailments.

• 'Staggering disaster'

It is more than 10 years since the world first began to learn about the crisis in the Aral Sea - described by the United Nations as "the most staggering disaster of the 20th century" - but scientists still have no more than a partial understanding of the damage inflicted on the 5 million people who live near the shriveled shores of what was once the world's fourth largest lake.

In 1959, keen to boost cotton production in the dry plains of central Asia, bureaucrats in Moscow conceived a brutally ambitious scheme to irrigate huge swathes of desert land and transform them into lush plantations.

A network of unlined canals was built, water from the Aral Sea's two tributaries was diverted to the cotton fields and powerful pesticides were pumped liberally into the system. Twenty years later, the region was producing 9 million tons of cotton a year, but locals had noticed with alarm that the sea was shrinking.

With only a trickle of water coming in, the sea retreated rapidly, and what remained of it became saltier and poisonous, killing most of its fish and much of the wildlife on its shores. As the sea shrank to half its former size, a sandy area about as big as the Netherlands was exposed, baking and cracking in the sun.

"When I was a child I used to swim in the sea. Now it isn't there. It's like a fairytale in reverse," said Almagun Matnazarova, a former schoolteacher from the onetime port town of Muynak, who scratches out a living selling socks and vests at a stall in the bazaar. At the town's outskirts, the deserted beaches where she used to play now edge onto the cracked scrubland that is the former seabed. Rusting trawlers are marooned in the sand. The coast is almost 100 miles away.

• Aid agencies arrive

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, international aid agencies hurried to the region - now divided between Uzbekistan and Kazakstan - but almost all of them focused on the environmental fallout from the catastrophe: the collapse of the eco-system, the damage to local flora and fauna, the effect on the region's environment.

Just as they had been ignored by the Soviet planners of the 1950s, the people were largely forgotten about by environmental workers. It is only now, with concern mounting over the fate of those left stranded by the desiccated seabed, that serious research into the health impact of the worst manmade environmental disaster is beginning.

Joost van der Meyer, a research director with Doctors Without Borders, which is championing the need for a greater focus on the people of the region, said: "The health and social consequences of the disaster remain a blank spot on everybody's map. It was seen primarily as an environmental issue, so no one bothered looking at the people. The impact on the local population is still not well known."

His researchers have started to study the dust to establish whether it really is one of the causes of the widespread ill health. Every year, the wind is estimated to whip up some 150,000 tons of particles that were shown to contain a variety of organophosphates and organo-chlorines, old- fashioned pesticides long-since discarded on safety grounds. These pesticides have been detected in the milk of breast-feeding women in the area and are believed to slow down children's mental development.

Half of the children who die in the Karalpakstan area of Uzbekistan (the region that surrounds the former coastline) are killed by respiratory diseases -asthma, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia - an extraordinarily high ratio, probably increased by the irritating effect of the dust.

• Breathing problems

Over the 30 years in her job, Ibadullayeva Sarakdin, head of the children's ward in Muynak hospital, has witnessed the children's increasing breathing problems. "About 60 percent of them suffer from some kind of bronchial problems. Often we don't have the medicine to treat them."

Most of the deaths are caused by late hospitalization. Parents are often reluctant to bring their children in until they are critically ill. "Although the treatment is free, they have to pay for the food here - many can't afford to," she said wearily.

Drinking water at least four times saltier than that in the West is also causing an array of complaints from kidney disease to heart problems.

But the gravest threat to health is posed by the total collapse of the economy and the ensuing chronic poverty. Muynak once had a profitable fish canning industry as well as a thriving tourist business. Now it has bankrupt fish processing plants, bankrupt hotels and bankrupt building companies. Even the local cinema has closed.

Unemployment is high, and few can afford to feed themselves properly. The explosion of TB cases is caused by this poverty, as is the anaemia that affects more than 70 percent of women, and around 99 percent of pregnant women, draining their energy and precipitating complications at birth.



Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LRussia LWorld Y G


Валентин ПротопоповContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

AMELIA GENTLEMAN, Bleak future for people of the Aral Sea // Moscow: Russian Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.RU). Updated: 25.07.2017. URL: (date of access: 27.09.2020).

Publication author(s) - AMELIA GENTLEMAN:

AMELIA GENTLEMAN → other publications, search: Libmonster RussiaLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
557 views rating
25.07.2017 (1160 days ago)
0 subscribers
1 votes

Related Articles
Новый социализм нужно строить, опираясь на новую теорию социализма. Новая теория социализма отказывается от диктатуры пролетариата, ибо практика развития старого социализма показала, что диктатура пролетариата не может быть не чем иным, как только диктатурой кучки коммунистических чиновников, или, как очень остроумно назвала её Роза Люксембург «диктатурой НАД пролетариатом». А появление у руля этой диктатуры таких предателей как Ельцин, неизбежно ведёт социализм к краху. Новый социализм, построенный на старой теории, ждёт такая же участь.
Малоизвестные страницы истории Великой Отечественной войны. Сейчас, когда открылись как отечественные, так и зарубежные архивы, стало возможным воссоздать картину одного из драматических эпизодов самого начального периода войны..... Западный фронт, бои в июне-июле 1941 года на втором стратегическом рубеже..... 22-ая армия под командованием генерал-полковника Ф.А. Ершакова..... Бои армии в Белоруссии на берегах реки Западная Двина на участке Дрисса - Дисна - Полоцк..... Начало широкого наступления немцев на восток было положено с маленького плацдарма в районе города Дисна
Catalog: История 
В статье рассматривается отражение образа Соловья-разбойника в романе М. А. Булгакова "Мастер и Маргарита" в связи с эпизодом свиста Бегемота и Коровьева при прощании героев с Москвой, а также связь образа Бегемота с образом Соловья-разбойника и героя древнеиндийского эпоса - Панду, а шире - связь русской литературы через "Закатный роман" Булгакова и поэму "Руслан и Людмила" А. С. Пушкина с древнеиндийскими произведениями: "Махабхаратой" и "Рамаяной".
Солнечная система является фрагментом распада нейтронного ядра нашей Галактики Млечный путь. Выброс нейтронного фрагмента Солнца из нейтронного ядра нашей Галактики произошёл приблизительно 10млр. лет назад. Всё это время нейтронный фрагмент перемещается по одному из спиральных рукавов нашей Галактики. Расширение происходит примерно по гиперболической траектории, которая вращается вокруг центра. Полный оборот вокруг центра нейтронного ядра Галактики, Солнце совершает примерно за 230млн.лет. Удаление от центра Галактики до Солнечной системы \simeq27700св. ле
Catalog: Физика 
15 days ago · From Владимир Груздов
Раскрытие тайны диалектики идеального и материального в реальном мире и в сознании человека
Catalog: Философия 
25 days ago · From Аркадий Гуртовцев
Энергия частицы является ключевым объяснением расширения Вселенной. В процессе расширения Вселенной участвуют пять частиц. Четыре массовые - нейтрон, протон, электрон и позитрон. Пятая частица условно без массовая - фотон. Позитрон и фотон не являются строительными кирпичиками материи Вселенной. Эти частицы выполняют вспомогательные функции в процессах преобразования материи и расширения Вселенной. Окружающий материальный мир организован из нейтронов, протонов и электронов. Сочетания, комбинации и перестановки этих трёх частиц, образуют окружающий нас мир
Catalog: Физика 
29 days ago · From Владимир Груздов
При любом взаимодействии масс, на любом уровне, создаются потенциалы взаимодействия в любых процессах расширения Вселенной. Этим определением рассмотрим вопросы, связанные с массой и энергией взаимодействующих объектов. Когда объекты (частицы, молекулы) потенциально взаимодействуют, они создают градиенты потенциального взаимодействия. Эти градиенты регулируют энергию и массу объектов и Вселенной в целом.
Catalog: Физика 
45 days ago · From Владимир Груздов
Жан Ланн
Catalog: История 
49 days ago · From Россия Онлайн
Кризис муниципальных финансов в России в 1917 г.
Catalog: Экономика 
49 days ago · From Россия Онлайн
Благотворительная деятельность предпринимателей Парамоновых на Дону. 1914-1915 гг.
Catalog: История 
49 days ago · From Россия Онлайн

Libmonster, International Network:

Actual publications:

Наталья Свиридова·jpg·25.22 Kb·137 days ago

Actual publications:



Latest BOOKS:

Actual publications:

Libmonster is the largest world open library, repository of author's heritage and archive

Register & start to create your original collection of articles, books, research, biographies, photographs, files. It's convenient and free. Click here to register as an author. Share with the world your works!
Bleak future for people of the Aral Sea

Watch out for new publications:

About · News · For Advertisers · Donate to Libmonster

Russian Libmonster ® All rights reserved.
2014-2020, LIBMONSTER.RU is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Keeping the heritage of Russia


US-Great Britain Sweden Portugal Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of branches, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. After registration at your disposal - more than 100 tools for creating your own author's collection. It is free: it was, it is and always will be.

Download app for smartphones