One Tenth China's Land Said To Be Highly Polluted With Heavy Metals - Coal May Be To Blame

mckaysavage/CC BY 2.0

Though no doubt much is lost in translation, this story just out of China, carried by AFP and other outlets, asserts that, "About 10 percent of China's farmland contains excessive levels of heavy metals due to contaminated water and poisonous waste seeping into the soil, state media said Monday, citing a government survey.

Pollution from heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cancer-causing cadmium is often blamed for poisoning entire villages and crop-growing land in China as factory bosses flout environmental laws and farmers use toxic fertilizers."

Accuracy of the 10% assessment is probably quite low; but, point taken. I doubt it possible for consumer product factory emissions to have created a situation where 10% of the land surface was evenly contaminated by heavy metals. A very different interpretation makes more intuitive sense.

It's Coal
Lead mercury and cadmium are commonly found in coal, and Chinese coal is notoriously heavily laced with toxic metals. Examples:

"The routes of sandstorms overlap ominously with the locations of many coal-producing regions, including the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Shanxi and Henan provinces."

And this: "China's coal industry, which supplies about 70 percent of the nation's energy needs, is having a major impact."

More than two billion tonnes of coal is burnt each year, discharging around 2,000 tonnes of mercury into the environment.

I could go on and on with more Google-examples but you get the point.

Chairman Mao would have known who to endorse for the Republican US presidential primary.
China has fouled a big part of its nest with heavy metals originating in large part from coal burning factories and utilities, relying on third-world style pollution controls -- of the very sort US Republicans obviously favor.

A great many heavy metal tainted 'hot spots' in China no doubt could be traced back to very high emissions from individual factories and to flooding of waste treatment or waste holding ponds; but, only extensive and widespread coal burning could result in such widespread, serious contamination -- All so that people in the West can keep buying cheap, crappy consumer goods.

Tags: China | Coal | Pollution