-Our Thoughts with the Victims-

The Cooking Oil Regarded as Health-conscious was Found to be Contaminated

 In 1968, there was a surge of people who reported curious symptoms: acne-like eruptions throughout the body, numbness in limbs, eye discharge, etc. It was not until about 6 months later that the cause was attributed to "Kanemi Rice Oil" produced by Kanemi Company. In fact, it was polluted by harmful chemicals, dioxins and dioxin-like compounds (PCDFs and Co-PCBs). As many as 14,000 victims were reported by July of the following year.
The fact is that a great number of people are still suffering as a result of the incident―as a result of intake of dioxin-polluted "Kanemi Rice Oil"―and this is one of the most serious food pollution incidents in Japan; "Kanemi Yusho (rice oil poisoning incident)."

1. Outbreak of Kanemi Yusho Disease

 Kanemi Company in Kyusyu produced rice bran oil “Kanemi Rice Oil” and sold it in a market. This rice oil spread throughout western Japan, and was consumed in many households as good for health and beauty.

 In February 1968, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), used as a deodorant, were mixed in the rice oil in the process of production. PCBs with heat produced PCDFs(poly-chloro-dibenzofurans), a kind of dioxins, in them and the chemicals and Co-PCBs were mixed into the oil altogether.
Many people used that rice oil in cooking and got contaminated with dioxins and dioxin-like compounds.

 Around March the same year, there were increasing number of people with health problems of unknown causes, such as skin eruptions, mattery swellings, numbness in limbs, skin pigmentation, a large amount of eye discharge, liver dysfunction, etc.
 Word had it that the possible cause might have been "Kanemi Rice Oil", but in spite of all those symptoms, some people still believed that the oil was good for their health and kept using it until the analysis was finally conducted.
 It was October the same year when this incident was reported in the newspaper. This stimulated further research and they found out that it had been caused by the polluted oil with PCBs. (Later, it turned out to be the combined pollution by PCDFs―byproducts of heated PCBs, and Co-PCBs. And the number of people who reported their illness at that time added up to 14,000.)

 The fact is that, a little before the outbreak of the disease, a lot of chickens had been dead of unknown causes in western Japan.
 At first, they were thought to be killed by an infectious disease, but later, the field survey found that "Dark Oil" in their feed was suspected, which is a byproduct of Rice Bran oil, and the rice bran oil used then was produced by Kanemi Company. But they failed to identify the exact cause of the incident, and as of June that year, it was concluded that the chickens had been killed by food pollution "most probably caused by deteriorated oil itself." The shipments of Dark oil were suspended in March of that year. As for Rice oil, however, they didn't conduct a further survey nor stop selling it, despite the fact that it was sold for human use.

 If they had conducted a detailed survey of the Rice Oil ―
and if they had started searching for a cause of patients with peculiar symptoms ―
then the number of Yusho victims would have been much smaller.

2.The Real Health State of Kanemi Yusho Victims

 Those who consumed Kanemi Rice Oil contaminated with harmful chemicals have suffered various kinds of health problems.
 At first, its peculiar skin symptoms attracted most of the attention: chlorine acne with bad-smelling pus all over the body, skin and nail pigmentation effects, and so on. But the symptoms were observed not only on their skin, but also throughout their body and appeared in various ways.
Major symptoms of Kanemi Yusho
Chlorine acnePigmentation on the faceLarge amount of eye discharge
Numbness of extremitiesHeadacheStrong sense of fatigueAnomaly of bones & teeth
Liver and kidney dysfunctionLarge amount of hair lossVision declineHearing loss

 By the end of July the following year, up to 14,000 people had reported their various symptoms. Their dermatitis became the cause of discrimination in many cases, and the sense of fatigue and headache greatly impaired their quality of life.
 In addition, some of these symptoms ended up in chronic ones and even over 40 years after the outbreak, many people are still suffering from the result. Yousho patients have many different kinds of symptoms with in various parts of their bodies.

 And those symptoms and sufferings have reached beyond generations.

 Have you ever heard of "Black Babies"? Babies with darkened skin were actually born to mothers who had accidentally consumed polluted Rice Oil. From then on, a lot of babies with pigmentation or dysfunctions have come to the world. It shows that the harmful substances polluting Rice Oil were passed from mothers to babies through placenta before birth and breast milk after birth and then affected the babies.
 This "Black Babies Incident" came as a great shock to a lot of people, and became a symbolic event in Kanemi Yusho incident.
 Recently, what drew people's attention was that the disease has also affected the victims' third-generation descendants. The survey by the Japanese government shows that about 40% of 1,131 certified patients answered that their children have the Yusho symptoms, and more than 10%, their grandchildren. And Higher-than-normal level of PCBs was detected in an umbilical cord of a certain victim's grandchild.
 How dioxins affect 2nd and 3rd generations has yet to be researched. It might be difficult, because in some cases, their parents or grandparents have been reluctant to tell them the truth for fear that they might be discriminated against.

 Like this, Kanemi Yusho Incident is still going on among its victims; It didn't end within the year 1968-1969. Far from it, it still keeps afflicting its victims, their children, and grandchildren as well. It still has a long way to come to an end.


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