As a result of this overnight transformation from an agricultural-based economy to being coined the “Factory of the World,” China’s clean water supply has been deteriorating at an astonishing rate and is a very critical issue that China is currently facing (1).

A heavily polluted river in the town of Zhugao in China’s southwest Sichuan province

As stated by the Greenpeace Organization, “the outlook for China’s water resources is dire. Not only does the country has a severe water shortage, but what little water there exists is often severely polluted by industrial wastewater” (2). Although the rise of these industries has propelled China economically as well as improved the standard of living for a large portion of its population, the discharge that comes from these factories has created a new series of safety and health concerns for the people exposed to polluted waters. But what exactly is in this discharge here in China that is so detrimental for the quality of our lives?

During the process of manufacturing, often times the residue from the production of the item comprises of hazardous chemicals are quite toxic to us and to the environment. While many countries have proper toxic waste disposals, many factories in China are guilty of discharging their wastewater directly into sources of drinking and irrigation water for surrounding areas (1). What is especially frightening though is that “many hazardous chemicals that are restricted or banned completely in Europe and elsewhere are not regulated in China. These chemicals have already been recognized as having serious threats to the environment and health, but in China they can still be used in large quantities and without oversight” (1).

Most distressing though is the rise of this new kind a village in rural China called cancer villages (1). These are areas near factory complexes where the cancer rates are extraordinarily higher than other regions of China. Victims are often young and succumb to rare forms of cancers that are difficult to treat. It is no surprise that the waters supplying these villages are polluted with extreme toxins and chemicals.

Even if you don’t believe you are at immediate risk to drinking contaminated water, the World Heath Organization emphasizes how easily diseases and pathogenic microbes can be transmitted via water across widespread areas (3). In China, both the Yangtze and Pearl Rivers face severe overexploitation extending throughout the entire length of the systems (1). So, it might be about time to know what exactly is in your water.

Read more about China’s water pollution here. (The Diplomat 2013)

What’s in the Water


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