In a beautiful, troubling photo essay for Search magazine, photojournalist Stephen Voss documents the effects of pollution on inhabitants of China’s Huai River Basin. Most people in the region, Voss notes, must rely on the river–even though they’re well aware that it’s polluted–as a source of drinking water and for crop irrigation. As a result, rates of cancer and other diseases are appallingly high in some villages.
Zi Qing lifts his shirt to reveal a thick red scar on his stomach from a recent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. His older and younger brother died of cancer within a month of each other. He has been a fisherman for most of his sixty years, but is no longer able to make a living or even feed himself from the river. The last time he went fishing, he was able to catch only a few, small fish, their bodies covered in blisters. In front of Zi Qing’s house is a small well that he has dug deeper five times in search of clean water, but still feels the water he drinks is polluted.
Above image: “Waste water comes out of a pipe at a state-owned MSG factory, Linhua Gourmet Powder Company. Linhua (meaning “lotus flower”) is the largest producer of MSG in China, and the largest polluter in the Huai River Basin.”
Image courtesy of Stephen Voss.