China Unveils Plan to Cut Heavy Metal Pollutant Emissions

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China’s top environmental official has pledged to curb heavy metal pollutants in the wake of numerous major poisoning incidents, including cases of lead poisoning in children, that have sparked public protest in recent years.

In a speech, Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian described a long-term plan that will aim to cut emissions in several critical industries — including mining, battery manufacturing and leather production — by 15 percent of 2007 levels by 2015. “The prevention of heavy metal pollution concerns the health of the people, especially children’s health, and concerns social harmony and stability,” he said.

Earlier this year, families living near battery plants in eastern China sought government compensation after more than 200 children were found to have high levels of lead in their blood. And lead isn’t the only pollutant of concern: The China Daily last week cited a study that found as much as 10 percent of the country’s rice contains high levels of cadmium. It was unclear whether China’s new initiative to curb heavy metal pollution has received government funding.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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