KUALA LUMPUR: Benzene, which can cause cancer, is said to be among the pollutants identified in the toxic pollution crisis in Sungai Kim Kim in Johor that saw thousands of people falling ill recently, according to MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon.
The episode in March this year saw the temporary closure of 111 schools in the Pasir Gudang district.
"I heard a carcinogenic substance has been identified as one of the pollutants in Sungai Kim Kim. I urge the authorities concerned to release the findings on the toxic pollution.
"The residents in Pasir Gudang and all Malaysians have the right to know the real situation," Dr Mah, who is a cardiologist, told a press conference in Wisma MCA here Tuesday (July 16).
He said the second episode of pollution in the Pasir Gudang district last month had raised more questions.
Schools and education centres with some 20,000 students and teachers within 6km radius of Taman Mawar had been closed for a few days after 75 students from 15 schools were referred to Sultan Ismail Hospital for difficulty in breathing and vomiting.
While personnel handling the two crisis on the ground were in special garbs and protective gear, Dr Mah asked how residents, including school children, had only face masks on when they were rushed to hospital.
According to Dr Mah, monitoring the pollution level and saying it was within safety limit was not enough.
"The load is there, meaning people who are staying there are being exposed to the pollution continuously.
"It is like staying next to a garbage dump. When the wind blows in your direction, you smell it. But the fact is you are exposed to the pollution 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.
In another development, Dr Mah questioned the Health Ministry as to why the cause of deaths of another 12 Orang Asli in Kampung Kuala Koh in Gua Musang, Kelantan has yet to be made known to the public.
The news on "mysterious deaths" in the village surfaced early June.
There are 15 such deaths to date, including three which the ministry announced measles as the cause of death.
Dr Mah said the water supply in the village contained manganese concentration of 2.53mg/litre which is 25 times higher than the standard 0.1mg/litre under the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
According to reports, he said the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations of Malaysia (FPMPAM) revealed results from an analysis of local water samples they had collected showed the water supply in Kampung Kuala Koh contained manganese concentration of 2.53mg/litre.
Dr Mah said manganese toxicity could trigger problems in the nervous system with symptoms similar to stroke and Parkinson's disease.
He asked if the ministry has the victims tested for manganese toxicity.