Half of All China's Water Too Polluted to Drink


Actual water samples collected from China's rivers and lakes.
And 1/4 is entirely unusable
Even given our general knowledge of China's longstanding problems with pollution, this news is staggering: A full one half of China's water has been rendered undrinkable from pollution. As if that wasn't shocking enough, a full 1/4 of the nation's water is entirely unusable, even for industrial processes, because it's so badly contaminated. And the bad news doesn't stop there. In addition to those eye-opening numbers, Reuters reports that 189 of the 443 cities that were monitored saw acid rain fall on their premises. Yes, that's acid rain in nearly 200 of China's major metropolises. Which is pretty crazy. Even crazier is that just about all of these numbers mark an improvement over previous years.

Here's Reuters reporting:

Inspectors from China's Ministry of Environmental Protection tested water samples from the country's major rivers and lakes in the first half of the year and declared just 49.3 percent to be safe for drinking, up from 48 percent last year, the ministry said in a notice posted on its website (www.mep.gov.cn).

China classifies its water supplies using six grades, with the first three grades considered safe for drinking and bathing. Another 26.4 percent was said to be categories IV and V -- fit only for use in industry and agriculture -- leaving a total of 24.3 percent in category VI and unfit for any purpose.

The blame for the sorry state of China's water is of course its heavy industry -- especially its chemical plants, paper mills, manufacturing operations, cement factories -- and its agricultural sector's overuse of pesticides and fertilizers.

Regulators are reportedly beginning to see some success in reigning in the pollution, but there's obviously a long, long ways to go.

More on China's Polluted Water
China's Water Pollution Twice the Officially Listed Levels
Big Water Trouble in Leaky China

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