China to Survey Soil Nationwide Following Cadmium-tainted Rice06-13 00:00 财经网
China is conducting nationwide samplings of soil to map heavy metal pollution levels across the country, based on earlier survey results starting from 1994, official media said.
A "comprehensive consultation" of the pollution levels is vital in avoiding cadmium-tainted rice, the official Xinhua said, citing the Ministry of Land and Resources and the China Geological Survey, among other food contaminations that have plunged China into a confidence crisis, risking stability.
Earlier researches and sampling have detected abnormally high levels of cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic in soils, especially in much of Yangtze River region, which produces half grain of the whole nation.
Xinhua, citing a report released in 2010 by the country's rice research and testing bureau, said one fifth of China's farmlands were tainted by heavy metals, and of them, cadmium-tainted soils were found in 11 of 32 Chinese provinces.
That could partly explain the presence of the toxic metal cadmium in rice in south China recently, which could be traced to Hunan, a province in the Yangtze River basin.
It is not clear how much of the rice produced in Hunan is tainted but results of a government test last month suggested nearly half of the rice sold in Guangzhou - most of them allegedly came from the nearby Hunan Province - was tainted by cadmium, spurring rising anxiety in the least food scandal.
Digging up into the reasons of the pollution, lawyers and activists who demanded a disclosure of soil pollution data were rejected by authorities, by labeling it a "state secret".
Previous surveys and researches have also found new chemical elements, or increasing amount of elements which used to be rare, in soils. "Once the soil is contaminated, it takes itself as much as a thousand years to be back where it was," the Xinhua said, citing geologists.
According to the report, a group of geologists, chemists and physicists started monitoring 51 chemicals in soils across the country in 1994, and five years later, experts began mapping 54 chemicals in eastern China's farms. A fundamental network of 78 geological chemicals measuring on 81 indices was established in 2008.
Improper dumping of industrial waste and overapplication of fertilizer are largely to be blamed, environmental scholars say. The results of abovementioned researches suggested higher growth rate in heavy mental contamination in industrial and farming areas. Nonferrous metals have been mined in Hunan for several hundred years.
"For the sake of human health, China should tighten scrutiny on pollution, and step up punishment," Xinhua said.
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