Expert: Sorrowful statistics of cancer morbidity in Armenia are no coincidence

10.5.2018 - YEREVAN
Elena Manvelyan from AWHHE

Currently, operating enterprises and companies don’t bear any real responsibility for environmental pollution or social commitments to local people from affected communities. A specifically worrying situation relates to the health of population living in the places of mining and non-ferrous metal industry. In her interview with EcoLur, Elena Manvelyan, President of "Women for Health and Healthy Environment” NGO, PhD in Medical Sciences, gave an assessment of the impact of heavy metals and toxic elements.

Armenia is missing protective measures to neutralize the wastes of mining and emissions of mining companies, despite the fact that:

  • RA Code on Subsoil has been amended twice,
  • amendments were made to RA Law “On Wastes”,
  • institutional changes having occurred,
  • Armenia joined the international initiative on mining transparency - EITI (Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative),
  • and foreign activities in the mining sector are laid down as priorities in investments.

"Sorrowful statistics of cancer morbidity in Armenia is not accidental, Armenia is a leader in case of a number of cancer diseases – breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer etc. It's beyond any doubt that the pollution of the environment here plays a decisive role. Heavy metals penetrate into the human organism through all biological barriers – lungs, skin, mucous, GIT with food, air, and water. Many heavy metals form stable complexes with organic substances, which enables them moving far distances in a dissolved state," Elena Manvelyan stated.

In reply to the question of how heavy metals are hazardous for human health, she replied: "The fatal effect of the excess of heavy metals and toxic elements start at cellular level causing intoxication and mutation. They block the performance of the ferments, which are responsible for clearly defined reactions of the organism. They disturb the permeability of the membrane of the cells, which, in its turn, leads to the disturbance of homeostasis of cells and cells start producing new substances, which are not particular to the organism, thus changing the natural rhythm. Heavy metals get out of the organism at low rates, get collected in the liver, kidney, vessels thus decreasing their filtration ability. Irreversible processes start when heavy metals reach our nervous system."

Manvelyan also outlined that the problems of mining sector don't have a kind of unified nature, but reflect the whole situation. "Businesses avoid the responsibility for violations related to their activities. Any mechanisms of feedback between local communities and companies are missing. In their turn, local communities don’t possess clear and honest information about the impact of emissions and mining wastes on health and don’t know how to protect their health and habitat,” she mentioned.

The new international co-project of Arnika NGO from Czech Republic (implemented through the financial support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Czech Republic) should help to protect the rights to health and healthy environment for the locals living in the "hottest” mining areas of Shnogh and Teghout, and also in Alaverdi and Akhtala. "In order to achieve significant results, we will use various strategies and methods, including the analyses of the samples of soil, water and products grown in these territories. The outcomes of the project will be widely discussed and covered in the mass media," Elena Manvelyan said.


This article was published in EnglishRussian and Armenian on the website of the local
informational NGO EcoLur and used by Arnika with author's authorization.

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