China is a booming country with increasing technology and increasing wealth. But alongside these positives come the negative impacts of a quickly growing country, such as drastic increases in fossil fuel use and increased pollution. One such form of pollution of severe concern is water pollution, a serious and growing problem in the country.
China’s own environmental ministry released disturbing figures this past June, noting the many pressures on the country’s waterways. According to the report, 16.4 percent of the rivers in the country do not meet the requirements for water for crop irrigation. Crop irrigation standards are much lower than drinking water standards. In addition, a large percentage of China’s rivers are severely polluted overall and the numbers are growing due to increased factory use in the country.
Heavy metal pollution is one major concern as heavy metals can be debilitating to both human and non-human health and are unable to be removed during water treatment processes. The problem has escalated in the past ten years alongside the economy and according to many the country is behind in water standards, standards other developed countries have had for years.
Li Yifang from Greenpeace in China stated: “We think our government should really act fast to develop a policy. China is really lagging behind because this was already a top issue in the developed world in the 1970s, and we are only just beginning to recognize the problem.” China has announced that they were be attempting to reduce heavy metal pollution by fifteen percent in the next five years.
However, the increasing pollution of China’s rivers is not just a Chinese problem. Many of the items being produced in factories which are polluting the rivers with such things as heavy metals are for companies such as Adidas, Nike, Calvin Klein, Puma and Abercrombie. These companies all work with one of two factories which were proven by Greenpeace to be significantly contributing to pollution in China’s rivers. The factories are the Youngor Textile Complex and the Well Dyeing Factory Ltd.
Heavy metals and chemicals which are restricted in the EU and U.S. were found in the discharge water of these two factories. They included perfluorinated chemicals, alkyl phenols and various heavy metals. The Youngor factory has indicated that they will be working with Greenpeace to reduce their impact.