Heavy Metals Contaminate Grains in China

August 2, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: August 2, 2006 12:00 am

On July 18, Zhou Shengxian, Director of China State Environmental Protection Administration, said in Beijing that soil pollution in China is very severe. It is estimated that each year there are twelve million tons of grains contaminated by heavy metals, which results in an economic loss of more than 20 billion yuan (approximately US$2.48 billion).

The Xinhua News agency reported that Zhou Shengxian made this comment during the Video Conference of Nationwide Soil Pollution Investigation and Prevention.

According to incomplete statistics of the State Environmental Protection Administration, there are about 150 million mu (about 24.7 million acres) of polluted farmland. Of this, 32.5 million mu (about 5.35 million acres) of irrigated farmland is polluted by sewage water, and solid waste has destroyed 2 million mu (about 329,333 acre) of farmland. The contaminated farmland amounts to about one tenth of the total farmland in the country, which is concentrated around developed areas.

Farmland pollution causes hazardous substances to accumulate in crops, which enter the human body through consumption of contaminated foodstuffs. This causes various diseases and harms people's health.

Zhou Shengxian pointed out that there are many problems with soil pollution prevention in China, as there is no clear picture of the amount and location of affected areas. Hence it is hard to develop a specific prevention strategy.

There are no laws against soil pollution, nor are there any soil environmental standards; there is no high level soil research due to a lack of funding, and many government officials, people, and enterprises do not understand the severity and danger of soil pollution.