Pollution is explained as the process by which land, water, air, and other parts of the environment are degraded and made unsuitable for use. A contaminant is usually introduced into a natural environment which is not tangible at times. When sound, light, and temperature are artificially allowed into the environment, they are considered to be pollutants. Close to 200 million people across the Eurasian continent are affected by toxic pollution. In areas where pollution is at its worst children are born with congenital disabilities, some children lose 30 to 40 IQ points, and the life expectancy has gone to as low as 45 years because of high rates of cancer and other diseases. A good example of a pollution that became worse was the case of the event in 2013, when the Hejiang River in China was polluted. The river was found to be contaminated with cadmium and thallium which are considered to be poisonous and carcinogenic substances. Water pollution has become one of the many critical environmental issues that China is being faced with. It is estimated that around 280 million people in China live without water that is safe for drinking.
Thallium and Cadmium Chemicals
The cadmium and thallium chemicals contaminated Hejiang River located in Hezhou in the autonomous region of Guangxi Zhuang. Over 30,000 people who live along the river stayed without water for close to a month. These two chemicals are known to be very toxic substances. The pollution was only noted when fish started to die in large numbers at the Hejiang River. The Guangxi region had over 100 mines that were illegally operating which had unsecured industrial waste from the mining states. The unsecured industrial wastes from these illegal mines were swept by floods into the river leading to the contamination. Most of these illegal company problems were because of limited economic activities and spotty regulatory oversight. Cadmium was at a peak concentration of 5.6 the allowed level in the Hejiang River making it exceedingly poisonous. Water pollution in China is at a very critical stage with close to 57% of the underground water is extremely polluted. Most of the pollution is caused by industrial activities which include mining as one of the reasons like in the case of the Hejiang River pollution.
Thallium and cadmium pollution are posing the risk of serious environmental impacts as these pollutants usually are from mines and affect the immediate surrounding area. The contamination of the Hejiang River through thallium and cadmium contamination led to a significant number of fish dying. It also made water that was used for drinking unsafe for consumption which further made the people around that area vulnerable to chronic illnesses and even death because of the level of poison in the water. The pollution by these chemicals enters the food chain through the soil. Research that was conducted found that up to 10% of rice grown in China has been tarnished by cadmium. As a result of the pollution on the soil, the quality and quantity of crops reduce which results in health risks for those who consume the food. To counteract any chemical contamination, more compounds are usually used, but in the case of the Hejiang River, it could not be possible as the levels of the chemical contamination were too high. Authorities believed that the best possible solution was to let the water clear itself for 20 days.
Policy and Law Regulating the Pollution of 2013 in China
The Mineral Resource Law in China was put in place to regulate mining whereby any company or party that would wish to go into mining would have to apply for approval first; in addition, they must pay mineral royalties and resource tax to the state. The approval process seeks to ensure that there are safety plans and environmental protection measures that are put in place. This law will also ensure that after mining starts all labor laws and safety regulations are followed. Failure of any company following or violating the Mineral Resources Law will have the company’s operations stopped and to compensate those that would suffer losses. The Environmental Protection Law was enacted for the purpose of protecting and improving the environment, safeguard public health, promote ecological civilization, to ensure that there is a sustainable social and economic development, and prevent and control pollution. This legislation put a point across that the protection of the environment was a standard national policy for China. The Environmental Protection Law emphasizes that all business operators should reduce and prevent environmental pollution and that they will be liable for any damage that will be caused. China’s Criminal and Civil Laws have also included punishment for offenses that will be committed against the environment. Such crimes include the causing of significant environmental damages through the dumping of toxic or waste material. Mining operations that are conducted without permits are also listed in the Criminal and Civil Laws of China which state that they are punishable by fine or imprisonment. The Environmental Impact Assessment Law of China was enacted so as to evaluate the potential positive and negative impacts that might be encountered from a proposed project. Every project in the country will be subjected to assessment in accordance with laws that govern it.
To control pollution, water is to be diluted, whereby the pollutants are chemically treated, and then they are converted into substances that are non-toxic. Companies should also ensure that their industrial wastes from mining sites and not dump them into water outlets. Remediation technology is used to remove contaminants from the environment sources like the groundwater, surface water, and soil. Cleanup is usually conducted under regulatory requirements and is requested by the government in polluted areas that have become worse. The process of remediation can be through the excavation of the affected soils or extraction of the groundwater that has been contaminated then treatment is conducted at the surface. Another method of remediation involves the treating of the contaminated soils and groundwater without necessarily removing them first.
Pollution is a global problem that needs continuous efforts to stop it, and China is facing it at a rate that is very alarming because of its rapid industrial growth. By reducing pollution, it will decrease financial costs which include waste management and clean up. It will also reduce environmental costs such as health problems and environmental damage. Through the prevention of pollution, the environment will be protected by the conserving and protecting natural resources which will lead to a strengthened economic growth through more efficient industrial production. Officials should implement more effective measures in finding the source of pollution and enact more laws against illegal mining and activities that might lead to contamination. Similar to the case of the 2013 Hejiang River pollution in China, it was a case of illegal mining that was accompanied by a lack of proper waste management that led to the contamination. In the end, if pollution is not controlled, people are the ones who will suffer the most through chronic illness.