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Environment| Environment

Environment| Environment

Bajos de Haina, Dominican RepublicElizabeth Mota is not able to see the sunrise every morning when she wakes up.

The 48-year old lives in Bajos de Haina in the Dominican Republics industrial area. This is a poor port city in the San Cristobal region, just south of Santo Domingo.

This area is home of at least 100 companies and two industrial areas. It is the country’s main industrial center.

Residents living in close proximity to factories emit toxic smoke that is constantly present in their lives.

It still looks cloudy in the morning when you get up. Mota says it’s just smoke from the factories. She leans on the side of her yellow house in Los Desamparados, which means the Forsaken. This contamination is killing us all here. We become more sick the more factories grow.

These factories surround Mota’s home and are behind cement walls that border the roads. The area looks like a shopping center, with factory logos and names painted on cement walls. This is for chemical, pharmaceutical, and other industries.

Haina was established in 2006. FoundIt is considered the third most toxic spot in the world.

People who were able to afford to leave the city long ago did so. Those who stay are the poorest residents who can’t afford to move.

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Residents here are familiar with skin lesions, respiratory issues, and a host of other health problems. Mota has respiratory problems and her teenage daughter has asthma. Skin lesions can flare up into blisters if the smoke in the area is too dense. One of the most serious concerns for the 160,000 city residents is lead poisoning. This can cause breathing and skin problems, and may have caused severe neurological damage in children.

Mota and five other Los Desamparados residents tested positive for lead poisoning in 2019. Residents claim that the toxic substance was caused by Verde Eco Recycling Industrial, an automobile battery recycling facility. The company strongly denies this claim. VERI claims it follows strict environmental standards and doesn’t cause any contamination, smoke or lead poisoning.

Residents of Haina, Mota included, have been leading protest movements calling for the closing of these factories for decades. However, this has had little effect. She said that if she could see the sky every morning, it would make her feel much better.

Mota says factories contaminate all aspects of people’s lives. We are tired. We want to see parks, cultural centres, and other positive things for the people of Haina. These factories are a source of misery for us.

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