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China targets water pollutants
February 22, 2013, 5:09 am

Some 16 of China's cities are among the most polluted in the world [Getty Images]

Some 16 of China’s cities are among the most polluted in the world [Getty Images]

The Chinese government has announced that it will prioritise efforts to restrict chemical pollution of the air and water.

The ministry of environmental protection issued a document listing 58 chemicals that will now require more restrictive registration, assessment and supervision.

The report says that some banned toxicants are still being produced in China and that in some areas where drinking water is polluted, cancer rates have risen.

The China Geological Survey says the situation has become so dire that the groundwater of 90 per cent of Chinese cities is polluted, with two-thirds of those cities having “severely polluted” water.

To raise awareness of the gravity of the situation, environmental activists are using social media to track which rivers, lakes, tributaries and water supplies are contaminated and which companies are allegedly responsible.

Users of the popular social media site Weibo are asked to take pictures and document their experience.

The concern for the safety of China’s water supply comes as the government is beginning to realise that it needs to take immediate action to curb air and water pollution.

Last month, Beijing implemented its emergency response plan for pollution as the city’s municipal meteorological station issued the first orange fog warning.

Air pollution in China’s capital city reached dangerous levels yet again on Sunday, marking the third consecutive day of severe smog, municipal environmental authorities said.

Monitoring data released showed that air quality indexes in most regions of Beijing had hit 500 – the highest level.

Earlier this week, Chinese authorities said they would impose emission limits on six polluting industries including coal-fired power plants and steel and petrochemical factories within days in hopes of lowering the air quality index.

Beijing says it will pressure mining, smelting, lead battery and chemical industries to join a mandatory insurance programme to ensure they can adequately provide compensation for damage.

The UN says that 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are located in China.

During the Chinese New Year, Beijing authorities adopted a more restrained approach to the celebrations, asking for fewer fireworks to be used to avoid adding to the persistent smog and pollution problem.

Source: Xinhua and Agencies

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