The Epidemiological Controversy in Campania

In order to verify the impact that the waste cycle in the hot spots of Campania has on health, in 2004 the Civil Protection Department commissioned the World Health Organization with an epidemiological study that was published in 2005.

The results showed 1) high rates of mortality for all the causes of death and for specific cancers in 24 municipalities in the provinces of Caserta (11) and Naples (13), but the main determinants of such high rates were poor lifestyle (i.e. diet, smoking, and infections) and occupational exposure rather than vicinity to waste facilities (legal and illegal); 2) high rates of neonatal malformations in the same area, but no causal relation was found between those rates and the practice of waste dumping, due to the presence of other intensive industrial and agriculture activities existing in the area (Martuzzi et al. 2005). Other studies (Fazzo et al. 2008) followed and detected anomalies in health conditions in the municipalities in Campania where illegal disposal of waste was more frequent, and they also confirmed the lack of a causal relation between mortality and morbidity rates and the presence of waste malpractices.

There is an evident contradiction between Campanian citizens’ daily perceptions of their unhealthy condition, the poor health of their relatives and friends who live in the vicinity of waste sites, and the main conclusions of the studies commissioned by public authorities. The controversy continues to fuel the perceptions of those affected of not being protected by public institutions. It also confirms that there is often a tendency towards weak legal protection by national regulations for victims of environmental crimes (Lynch and Stretsky 2003). In contrast, scholars have argued in favour of the potential benefits of victims’ participation in the criminal justice system in a variety of forms, including the decision-making process, consultation, and providing information (Cardwell et al. 2011) (Figs. 3.1 and 3.2).

 
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