13.12.2002 | D. Matvienko, a member of a working group of the International Organization of Human Rights (IOHR)

’Acetone’ disease in Cherkassy


The protection of environment and human health is the most acute problem of the modern Ukraine. The public and local organizations (’Zeleny svit’ and others) more than once raised this problem in Cherkassy and the Cherkassy oblast, because since 1960 the development of local industry did not take account of ecological norms. Before the industrialization it was a resort. Nowadays the enterprises of the town every year throw into the atmosphere more than 13,000 metric tones of hydrogen sulfide, oxygen sulfide and other sulfur containing harmful substances.

The newspaper ’Kyiv Post’ informs that Cherkassy look gloomy because of the enterprise ’Azot’ (’Nitrogen’) and other chemical enterprises. Maybe, this pollution is the basic reason of cancer and other fatal diseases, from which permanent residents of the town suffer during several last decades. Frequently the wind in the town is polluted and stinking, so the inhabitants have to keep windows tightly shut.

Irina Ionova, a doctor of the town children polyclinic, told that most pediatric diseases in the town are connected with the emissions of local chemical enterprises. During 1980 the doctors of the polyclinic examined many children, who suffer from internal diseases. The examination showed that children suffer from ’acetone’, sickness, weakness and diarrhea. Acetone is very solvable, it spreads over the entire body and is excreted with urine. G. Dubrovska, the head of the working of the IOHR, referring to L. Mayboroda, the sanitary town doctor, informs that up to 1995 such disease as ’acetone’ had not existed. Since this disease became typical of Cherkassy, the special commission from Kyiv worked here in 1997 to find out the reasons of appearing this disease. The commission explained the disease by the pollution of the local atmosphere.

The pollution of the air occurred during the last decade, the pollution in Cherkassy was 1.3 times more than the official data stated, informed A. Fruzenkova, who works in the organization of environment protection. In 1999 her group registered 165 cases of pollution of local air.

The great number of children, who suffer from asthma, bronchitis, allergy and other respiratory diseases, is connected with the pollution. In 1997 approximately 8.8% of children had bronchitis. Last year this number grew to 9.6%. As doctor V. Kutsiuruba, the head of the recovery center, pointed out, that the acetone disease continues to spread today, and only 20% of children are born healthy.

In 1990 the gross product of the enterprises ’Chemical fiber’ and ’Nitrogen’ diminished by 25%. Yet, in spite of this, the chemical pollution of the Cherkassy region remains immense. So, ’Nitrogen’ works polluting the environment with 27 harmful substances, which are spread throughout the town by wind. Specialists assert that the pollution of the town is due to two factors: meteorological and topographical. Meteorological reason is the local wind rose. The topological factor is the incorrect allocation of chemical enterprises (1960).

In 1997 the emissions of poisonous substances exceeded the norms. So specialists are now developing the method of the monitoring of the environment pollution and the level of diseases caused by the chemical enterprises.

Most enterprises of the Cherkassy region are oriented at the export of their product and producing raw materials for future processing at American plants. This must stimulate the work of cleaning the environment, believes V. Khomenko, the head of the ecological security of the Cherkassy oblast.

The results of the work by the members of the IOHR on the determination of the number of children, who suffer from the acetone disease, and the unofficial data, obtained from children polyclinics, showed that now almost all children younger than six are sick with the acetone disease. We are sure that these data must be known to a broad public. The existing fine sanctions against enterprises must be revised and increased, for who will pay for each sick child?

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