Residents of a city located in the southern region of China rushed to supermarkets and groceries to purchase bottled water after findings revealed high levels of cancer-causing cadmium in rivers considered as valuable sources of water supply. The health scare that hit the region during the first quarter of 2011 was one of the few health scares in the past few years.
Water pollution as a result of run offs of toxic materials coming from factories and farms has always been a pressing problem in China. The water pollution back in 2012 encouraged and inspired the push to further tighten environmental policies with the aim of cutting pollution caused by heavy metals. Despite the call for action, there have been no signs of improvement in regulating waste management especially in the highly-industrialized regions of China.
According to a study conducted in 2012, the cadmium concentration in the Longjiang River located in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is three times over its acceptable limit. According to Xinhua, mining companies are the top suspects and root cause of water pollution in certain regions across China.
There are many problems that arise from water pollution and exposure to toxic materials as a result of industrialization. Although advanced and efficient health care is available in China, not all of its people can afford health insurance, life insurance, and other services that can help them in reducing health-related costs and expenditures. Excessive levels of cadmium that were found in Southern China were detected in natural bodies of water. An additional 80 tons of aluminum chloride were infused into the river in order to neutralize the health risks associated with cadmium exposure.
Cadmium exposure is a growing public health concern in China as factories are being built across the country in the past few decades. Cadmium coming from mining companies and factories that either utilize or emit cadmium as waste product cause water pollution that result in diseases and destruction of natural resources.
Cadmium, when mixed in soil and water supply, can be absorbed by crops and aquatic life resulting in its accumulation in the human food chain. There are many health risks associated with prolonged exposure and consumption of calcium through drinking water and daily diet. For instance, cadmium is known to have rather dangerous effects on the kidney, the skeletal system, and the respiratory system. Although cadmium has always been present in nature, human activities in the form of technology and industrialization, have significantly increased these levels resulting in renal tubular dysfunction and formation of kidney stones to name a few.
The Chinese government has been pushing to reduce the negative effects of industrialization in urban cities. For instance, leaders ordered the closing and suspension of a chemical plat in central Hunan province in 2009 after receiving numerous complaints and reports of cadmium polluting their water supply.
Although Beijing has promised for better laws to regulate waste management and environmental protection, most government official still prioritize the growth of the economy and increased employment over the wellbeing of Mother Nature.