Classy Chinawoman

Panic after Chinese city declares tap water toxic

Residents of provincial capital in west China flock to supermarkets to stock up on mineral water after government admits water supply contaminated by potentially deadly toxic chemical [known as 'benzene', a chemical the Tele seems to think readers have never heard of]

[People line up to buy cartons of bottled water at a supermarket after reports on heavy levels of benzene in local tap water Photo: REUTERS]

By Tom Phillips, Shanghai, Telegraph, 11 Apr 2014

Nearly 2.5 million residents of a major city in west China have been ordered not to drink its tap water after the supply was contaminated with dangerous levels of a carcinogenic substance.

Panic buying of bottled water broke out in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, on Friday after state media announced authorities had "detected excessive levels of benzene in [its] tap water system".

Officials found 200 micrograms of benzene per litre - 20 times the acceptable "national limit" - in samples of the city's water supply, according to reports.

Exposure to benzene, a colourless liquid used to make plastics, lubricants, dyes, detergents and pesticides, has been linked to leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"Consuming foods or fluids contaminated with high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, stomach irritation, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, and rapid heart rate. In extreme cases, inhaling or swallowing very high levels of benzene can be deadly," the website of the American Cancer Society warns.

It was not immediately clear how Lanzhou's water supply had been contaminated but Xinhua, China's official news agency, blamed an unnamed chemical plant. The plant had released toxic "waste water" into the city's supply, Xinhua said.

The Yellow River, which cuts through the heart of Lanzhou, a city of nearly four million inhabitants, [of whom only 65% had been warned about benzinated H2O?] had not been contaminated, government sources claimed [with a straight face].

The announcement that Lanzhou's residents [or 65% of residents] should avoid drinking tap water triggered panic, with locals "rushing to supermarkets or community grocery stores to stock up on bottled water", Xinhua reported.

"My family are all scared," one woman, named only as Ms Luo, told the agency as she filled her trolley with water at one of Lanzhou's biggest supermarkets. "My husband called to ask me to come here and snap up as much bottled water as I can."

Photographs showed shoppers heaping crates of mineral water into their trolleys.

The water supply to one part of the city, the Xigu district, was completely cut off, according to the state-run China News Service.

Shi Zifa, a chemistry professor from Lanzhou University, said drinking contaminated water could cause "acute poisoning". [What does this egghead know? Surely a bit of benzene added to the average wee Chinee's toxic food and water supplies couldn't make much difference.]

City officials said they would issue [unreliable] updates on the water's drinkability every two hours.

Wang Zuguo, a resident, took to the Weibo micro-blog to vent his anger. "It is unprecedented for [it to be made public that] the capital city of a province to see its tap water so badly polluted that it becomes unsuitable for drinking," he wrote. "How are several million people supposed to survive on bottled water?" "If we can't drink tap water, what are we supposed to drink?" wrote another internet user. "Lanzhou has several million people, so how is "don't drink it" a solution? What happens to those who can't buy bottled water? Do they have to go somewhere else to drink and eat? Or are they expected to live on air alone?" [Whingers from the prole and peasant bottom-of-the-barrel dregs of egalitarian Commie China's class system.]

China's toxic skies make greater headlines but authorities are also battling a major water pollution crisis after decades of breakneck development. [Diversity. Chinee get to complain about their toxic skies one day, toxic water the next, toxic food the next....]

In 2012 the country's rivers pumped more than 17 million tons of pollution into its seas, according to official figures, including [a mere] 46,000 tons of heavy metals.

In February, Beijing said it would spend 2 trillion yuan (£192 billion) on a water pollution campaign in a bid to improve water quality by "30 to 50 percent". [You can't ask for more than that!] Nearly 60 per cent of groundwater samples were "heavily polluted", to a 2012 study found.

Related Articles: China: our pollution causes 'cancer villages'; China's countrymen struggling with a 'sick' Mother Earth; Yellow River too polluted to drink; 'Number One Beach' now full of rubbish; China detains seven over river pollution scandal


Classy Chinawoman

Classy Chinawoman

Classy Chinawoman

Classy Chinawoman

Classy Chinawoman

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