From Iceland — MPs Propose Investigating Link Between High Cancer Incidence In Suðurnes And Pollution

MPs Propose Investigating Link Between High Cancer Incidence In Suðurnes And Pollution

Published December 9, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Timothée Lambrecq

A new parliamentary proposal, submitted by seven MPs–all but one from the South Iceland district and all but two from the Independence Party–calls upon the Minister of Health to launch an investigation into why there is a particularly high incidence of cancer in the Suðurnes region of southwest Iceland. They are calling for the results of the investigation to be presented before June 1st 2022.

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Research submitted with the proposal shows that while cancer cases have been declining across Iceland from 2009 to 2018, Suðurnes has consistently reported the most cases overall over this period.

While the proposal authors concede that lifestyle choices do play a part in this–e.g. smoking is more popular in Suðurnes than other parts of the country–they argue that other factors cannot be ruled out, referring specifically to a recent report on pollution in the soil and groundwater in the area.

That pollution is prevalent in Suðurnes is not recent knowledge. News reports from 2014 reported high levels of dangerous toxins left behind by the former NATO base, and heavy industry in the area has also played a part.

Nonetheless, no formal research has been conducted to see if the pollution present in Suðurnes is at all linked to the higher incidence of cancer there. While the proposal is newly submitted, the fact that it was presented by an MP from the ruling coalition makes its passage more likely than not.

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