Pollution is one aspect of the broader topic of environmental issues in China. Various forms of pollution have increased as China has industrialised, which has caused widespread environmental and health problems.
The immense growth of the People’s Republic of China since the 1980s has resulted in increased soil pollution. The State Environmental Protection Administration believes it to be a threat to the environment, food safety and sustainable agriculture. 38,610 square miles (100,000 km2) of China’s cultivated land have been polluted, with contaminated water being used to irrigate a further 31.5 million miles (21,670 km2.) and another 2 million miles (1,300 km2) have been covered or destroyed by solid waste. In total, the area accounts for one-tenth of China’s cultivatable land, and is not known as the first time mostly in economically developed areas. An estimated 6 million tonnes of grain are contaminated by heavy metals every year, causing direct losses of 29 billion yuan (US$2.57 billion).
As China’s waste production increases, insufficient efforts to develop capable recycling systems have been attributed to a lack of environmental awareness. In 2012 the waste generation in China was 300 million tons (229.4 kg/cap/yr). A ban came into effect on 1 June 2008 that prohibited all supermarkets, department stores and shops throughout China from giving out free plastic bags. Stores must clearly mark the price of plastic shopping bags and are banned from adding that price onto the price of products. The production, sale and use of ultra-thin plastic bags – those less than 0.025 millimeters (0.00098 in) thick – are also banned. The State Council called for “a return to cloth bags and shopping baskets.” This ban, however, does not affect the widespread use of paper shopping bags at clothing stores or the use of plastic bags at restaurants for takeout food. A survey by the International Food Packaging Association found that in the year after the ban was implemented, 10 percent fewer plastic bags found their way into the garbage.
In 2011, China produced 2.3 million tons of electronic waste. The annual amount is expected to increase as the Chinese economy grows. In addition to domestic waste production, large amounts of electronic waste are imported from overseas. Legislation banning importation of electronic waste and requiring proper disposal of domestic waste has recently been introduced, but has been criticized as insufficient and susceptible to fraud . There have been local successes, such as in the city of Tianjin where 38,000 tons of electronic waste were disposed of properly in 2010, but much electronic waste is still improperly handled.
The water resources of China are affected by both severe water shortages and severe water pollution. An increasing population and rapid economic growth as well as lax environmental oversight have increased water demand and pollution. In response, China has taken measures such as rapidly building out the water infrastructure and increased regulation as well as exploring a number of further technological solutions
Air pollution has become a major issue in China, and poses a threat to Chinese public health. Coal combustion generates particulate matter also known as “PM”. Currently, Beijing is suffering from PM2.5, which is a particulate matter with diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less . According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, such fine particles can cause asthma, bronchitis, and acute and chronic respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and painful breathing, and may also lead to premature death. The Telegraph reported a case of an 8-year-old girl who had contracted lung cancer, becoming the youngest victim of lung cancer in China. Doctors pointed out that the likely cause was exposure of air pollution, specifically fine particulates from vehicles. The case has gathered large national public attention and also international attention.