According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, almost a fifth of China’s soil is contaminated. Between 2005 and 2013, results show that 16.1% of China’s soil and 19.4% of its arable land show contamination.
China is a country that is constantly developing. Its quick and constant industrialization poses great concern of irreparable damage to the soil and the environment. Industrial activity is a major known cause for the contamination and eventual pollution of soil. Extracting minerals from the earth can cause waste to linger in the soil surface long after the activity ceases. “Due to long periods of extensive industrial development and high pollutant emissions, some regions have suffered deterioration land quality and serious soil pollution” (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-27076645). Besides being an industrial area, many parts of China see heavy agricultural activity, which is also a major known cause for soil contamination and pollution. Agricultural activity sees an increase in chemical utilization with modern pesticides and fertilizers. Many of the chemicals used aren’t natural and therefore cannot be broken down by nature. This soil pollution can cause underground water contamination which can damage the quality and the quantity of crops.
How is this affecting the population in China? Many local farmers aren’t eating the food they are growing. Their crops are planted in soil that is polluted with lead, mercury, and other metals that are extremely dangerous to human health. The most unfortunate part of all this is that poor people living in China have no choice but to eat the contaminated food. Isabel Hilton, founder and editor of the China Dialogue Report, says that serious health issues, including cancer and diseases infecting the nervous system, could be cause by soil pollution. The Environmental Protection Ministry has admitted to “cancer villages” that exist in China. This number is listed to be at about 450 and increasing as time goes by.
The pollution problem is severe and urgent, yet it has attracted too little attention. It is extremely crucial that we begin to take measure to confront the problem in China. There are parts of China where polluting factories have closed down, but western China is not following the trend. Getting rid of the pollution and contamination is not only about the removal of contaminants. It is more complex than this. We must restore soil health to help ensure food safety and the well-being of the people.