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China: Dirty dirt

December 6, 2011

Two weeks ago, I posted about China’s Dirty Water – the high level of industrial pollution in China’s drinking water.

Today, it is the dirt itself that is causing concern.  According to the Hong Kong Standard:

About 10 percent of farmland in the mainland contains excessive levels of heavy metals due to contaminated water and poisonous waste seeping into the soil, state media said, citing a survey by the environmental protection ministry.

Pollution from lead, mercury and cancer-causing cadmium is often blamed for poisoning entire villages and crop-growing land as factory bosses flout environmental laws and farmers use toxic fertilizers. “Heavy metal pollution incidents have occurred repeatedly in recent years,” Wan Bentai, chief engineer at the ministry, said.

The report in the Southern Metropolis Daily did not say what level of heavy metals is considered excessive or how much of the country’s agricultural land contains toxins.

Many analysts project that, relatively quickly, China will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy.  However, it remains to be seen whether China can maintain the industrial policies that are fueling its growth at the same time they are poisoning its environment.

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