Environment: And Now, Cadmium

Before killing herself in 1969, Takako Nakamura wrote: "The pains gnaw at my body. I want to throw out my stomach and intestines." Read aloud to Japan's hushed Diet last month, those words moved Prime Minister Eisaku Sato to tears. Takako Nakamura has become a symbol of the tragic results of Japan's unchecked pollution.

At 18, Takako became a lathe operator at a cadmium smelter near her home in Annaka, a city on the main island of Honshu. When she began suffering mysterious pains in 1961, no one even thought to blame cadmium. As...

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