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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 March 4 - 10  > Mold pollution at temporary housing facilities causes serious health damage to survivors of 2011 Disaster
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2015 March 4 - 10 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Mold pollution at temporary housing facilities causes serious health damage to survivors of 2011 Disaster

March 5, 2015
In cases of prolonged evacuation, many victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami followed by a nuclear meltdown four years ago are suffering from ill health due to mold pollution at temporary emergency housing facilities.

One such sufferer is 66-year-old Higuchi Toshio who lives in a temporary housing unit in Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture.

In the winter of 2011, just after moving into the current place, he came down with a severe cough and experienced difficulty in breathing. Two years later, in May 2013, his symptoms became more severe.

In the same year, a study team of the health and welfare ministry conducted a survey on temporary housing units in the city. The team detected an extremely high concentration of mold at many temporary apartments, including Higuchi’s apartment. Those apartments have mold spore levels 50 times to 100 times higher than that in ordinary apartments. This survey helped diagnose Higuchi’s symptoms as allergic symptoms caused by mold exposure.

Microbiology expert at the National Institute of Health Sciences Watanabe Maiko, who heads the survey team, said, “Temporary housing units are susceptible to moisture condensation which leads to excessive growth of mold. The longer 2011 victims live in temporary housing units, the more health problems they get due to mold pollution.”

Mold pollution has become a serious problem at other temporary housing units in the disaster-affected Tohoku region.

Japanese Communist Party member of the Miyagi Prefectural Assembly Miura Kazutoshi on March 3 at the assembly meeting said, “Temporary housing’s unhealthy living environment infringes on people’s basic human rights.” He urged Governor Murai Yoshihiro to investigate the health condition of temporary housing residents and take measures to improve their living environment.
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