China is the most populated country in the world, but has relatively little fertile land, and even less water. Maintaining the quality of its agricultural land is of paramount importance if China wants to feed its very large and growing population. Yet, China is one of the countries with the largest amount of polluted soil. This paper looks at the causes and distribution of soil pollution in China. It first looks at the amount of organic and inorganic soil pollutants and their geographic distribution. It then looks at the causes of soil pollution, making the distinction between agricultural activities, industrial activities, and urbanization. Pollution from agricultural activities stems primarily from the excessive amounts of pesticides and fertilizers used on farmland, and is mainly located in the south, where most of the food is produced. Pollution from industrial activities is due to airborne industrial pollutants that fall on to the land, and is mainly located in the west of the country, where most manufacturing activities take place. Pollution from urbanization is mainly due to the very large amount of solid, liquid and gaseous waste generated in a small area with insufficient treatment facilities, and exhaust fumes from vehicles, and is located around the largest cities, or roads. The result is that one fifth of China’s farmland is polluted, and an area the size of Taiwan is so polluted that farming should not be allowed there at all.
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