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Volume IX |

Social Vulnerability and Risks Associated to the Balkan Endemic Nephropathy in Mehedinţi County

Abstract: The Balkan Endemic Nephropathy (BEN), commonly known as “the dry kidney disease”, was observed for the first time in 1957 in Ergheviţa village from Mehedinţi County. Although, the phenomenon was mainly studied by doctors for a period of approximately 50 years, the number of cases increased, but the actual cause of the disease was not discovered yet.
Among the mainly incriminated elements, there is to be mentioned the underground water that crosses through the coal deposit located in the Huşnicioara mines.
It is important to notice the fact that this disease affects only the rural space, most of the effective areas of the disease being concentrated around the urban centres like Drobeta Turnu-Severin, Baia de Aramă, Strehaia and Vânju Mare. The respective rural communities are considered to be truly vulnerable to the poor quality of underground waters. Given the fact that new cases of nephropathy are continuously discovered, one of the hypothesis is that the risk induced by the pollution of underground water layers is significant and that the human communities are highly vulnerable to this element.
The present study identifies the actual status regarding the symptoms and the extension of the disease, as well as the economical-social circumstances that favour the occurrence of the cases, representing a strong signal concerning the human communities vulnerable to the pollution of a natural resource that is indispensable to human life – water.