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A Smoggy Day in Tianying, China A Smoggy Day in Tianying, China
Garbage in Tianying, China

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3. Tianying, China

Country: China
Location: Tianying, Anhui Province, China

Pollutants

The lead smelters in the area contribute to much of the lead pollution in the area. Small recycling centers, which work with batteries, also dump heavy metals into the surrounding environment.

Area Affected

Roughly 140,000 people in the Tianying area are affected, though the spread of heavy metals is distributed throughout Anhui province.

About

Tianying Town, in the Anhui Province of China is one of the largest lead producers in the country. In fact, almost fifty percent of the lead in China comes from processing plants in the Tianying area. However, the lead plants in the region are widely known for antiquated technologies and a cavalier attitude towards safe disposal of lead and other heavy metals. Another problem the area has to combat is numerous recycling facilities which take in scrap metal and batteries and salvage the parts. These small operations are not governed, and answer to no one for safe disposal of possible contaminants.

As of 2003 several plants in the Tianying area had been pressured to close by government officials. A supervision team was sent out to move the plants farther away into an industrial "safe" zone and to close any factories that refused to do so permanently. Also, no farmers were to be allowed to grow grain in the area and would be subject to medical tests to determine lead levels in the blood. However, four years later the city is still on the "worst polluted" list, making one wonder what happened to the intentions to close all those factories.

People, Animals, Plants and Waterways Effected

Lead poisoning

One of the groups that suffers most from Tianying's lead pollution is its children. Lead poisoning can have a profoundly detrimental effect on children, stunting both physical and mental growth. Side effects of lead poisoning include: attention deficits, learning disabilities, lower IQ's, hyperactivity, stunted physical growth, hearing and vision disabilities, colon irritation, stomach aches, kidney damage, anemia, and brain damage. Pregnant women often find themselves giving birth to premature babies as well.

One Chinese study found that the concentrations of lead in the air were 8.5 to 10 times higher than was deemed safe by the national health standard. The lead contaminated the soil so badly that local wheat farmer's crops contained lead content 24 percent higher than was deemed safe by national health standards. The levels of lead in the children's blood averaged about 496 microgram/L. Normally lead posioning and the associated effects begin at about 100 microgram/L, so it's obvious the poisoning was happening at a massive level. The study concluded that the lead pollution ws having a severe detrimental effect on the people and clean-up efforts needed to start immediately. The study was completed in 2002.

Clean up Activities

As previously mentioned, the Chinese government officially requested that all lead factories in the area move to a designated industrial zone as of 2003. In addition to moving the factories were expected to update their facilities to newer, safer technology, and to follow environmental regulations. However, it isn't known if these efforts are honestly being pursued, seeing as much progress has not been made in the following four years.

How You Can Help

Visit http://www.blacksmithinstitute.org/ for more information on how you can help.

References

  • Blacksmith Institute's "Top Ten Most Polluted of 2007" http://www.worstpolluted.org/projects_reports/display/30
  • Study on the effects of lead from small industry of battery recycling on environment and children's health.
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12411081?dopt=Abstract
  • China's Largest Lead Processing Base Closed due to Pollution http://english.people.com.cn/200309/10/eng20030910_124085.shtml
Submitted by cennywenny on Sep 2, 2008