Correction Appended: Sept. 13, 2007
Number of people potentially affected: 140,000
Type of pollutant: Lead and other heavy metals
Source of pollution: Mining and processing
An industrial city though China doesn't really have any other kind in the country's northeastern rust belt, Tianying accounts for over half of China's lead production. Thanks to poor technology and worse regulation, much of that toxic metal ends up in Tianying's soil and water, and then in the bloodstream of its children, where it can cause lowered IQ. Wheat has been found to contain lead levels up to 24 times Chinese standards, which are even more stringent that U.S. restrictions on lead. "China has a commitment to environmental protection, but it also has a commitment to industry," says Richard Fuller of the Blacksmith Institute. "It's a constant push that's mostly won by industry."
by Bryan Walsh
Due to incorrect information from The Blacksmith Institute, an earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to the Chinese city of Tianjin. The correct city is Tianying.
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