Chinese Farms Cause More Pollution than Factories, Says Official Survey

The first Chinese census on pollution has revealed that fertilizers and pesticides, and not smokestacks, are the country’s biggest sources of water pollution. From The Guardian:

Senior officials said the disclosure, after a two-year study involving 570,000 people, would require a partial realignment of environmental policy from smoke stacks to chicken coops, cow sheds and fruit orchards.

Despite the sharp upward revision of figures on rural contamination, the government suggested the country’s pollution problem may be close to – or even past – a peak. That claim is likely to prompt scepticism among environmental groups.

According to insiders, the release of the groundbreaking report was delayed by resistance from the agriculture ministry, which had previously insisted that farms contributed only a tiny fraction of pollution in China.

The census disproves these claims completely. According to the study, agriculture is responsible for 43.7% of the nation’s chemical oxygen demand (the main measure of organic compounds in water), 67% of phosphorus and 57% of nitrogen discharges.

See also “China Report Shows More Pollution in Waterways” from the New York Times and “Why do lakes in China turn green? Report finds surprising new culprit” from the Christian Science Monitor.

February 9, 2010 2:26 PM
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