Mesothelioma is a cancer from stones caused in humans by inhalation of erionite fibers contained in stones that make buildings of Tuzkoy village.

Tuzkoy village is a part of Cappadocia, the central region of Turkey described as a geological wonderland, abundant in historic remains, rich in eroded rocks and a definite attraction for tourists. Volcanic eruptions deposited the soft rocks in Cappadocia plateau. These rocks are used to make "fairy chimneys", cave-churches and underground cities in Cappadocia.

But Tuzkoy is very different from rest of Cappadocia. It is a haven for mesothelioma, a form of malignant cancer. For ages, respiratory diseases have been common among Tuzkoy villagers. One half of villagers died of respiratory malfunctioning. Tuberculosis was suspected but patients were unresponsive to usual treatment. A 40 year long research analysis (from 1970 to 2010) by Dr Izzettin Baris has identified cancer as the cause of death among villagers of Tuzkoy, Karaiun and Sarahidir.

The real reason for mesothelioma was identified as mineral erionite found in rocks in Tuzkoy. Erionite fibers are contained in soft yellow rock that make buildings and inhaled by women who dust walls and children breathing the fibers. Leaving the village at an early age or moving to faraway places like Sweden or Istanbul does not impede the disease from claiming villager’s lives.

The only possible solution given by Dr. Baris is coming into effect 30 years later. The whole village will be moved to a new town constructed on a hill above Tuzkoy. But inhabitants are still living in Tuzkoy because they cannot afford to move or do not believe the research. Some accuse Dr. Baris as branding their village as a “cancer village”. In addition, several discrepancies have been reported in allotment of houses. Lesser number of houses has been built in the new town resulting in 1000 villagers having to stay back in Tuzkoy.

Umit Balak, mayor of Tuzkoy, is acting on these complaints by raising more funding for this project. He plans to demolish the old village, cover it with soil and plant trees. But Dr Baris has come out in opposition to this idea, saying it will affect workers who do the job. Instead he recommends fencing off the village allowing nature to provide its cure.

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