China’s Toxic Chemical Emission Highest In The World: Study

China is today the largest emitter of certain toxic fluorinated chemicals, thanks to US and Europe manufacturers moving operations there.

AsianScientist (Oct. 25, 2016) – China is today the largest emitter of certain toxic fluorinated chemicals in the world, according to an international study published in Environmental Science and Technology.

In the study, researchers from Sweden, Norway and China measured the levels of 12 fluorinated substances at the mouths of 19 Chinese rivers. They studied two fluorinated substances in particular, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOS is used, for example, in the manufacturing of insecticides and chrome plating. PFOA is used in the manufacturing of PTFE, a coating material used for non-stick kitchen utensils and frying pans (commercially known as Teflon).

The research team, led by Dr. Wang Thanh, a researcher at Örebro University, has now shown that this group of chemicals is harmful to animals and humans.

According to Wang, China is the largest emitter of all these substances in the world today, and they are discharged into the oceans all over the world.

“Chemical manufacturers in the US and Europe have phased out local production, and instead moved its manufacturing to China, since regulations are less strict there,” said Wang, pointing out at the same time that emissions from the West have been “extremely high” in the past.

Indeed, the researchers said, toxic fluorinated chemicals substances are not only China’s problem—they are a global, long-term pollution problem. They also pointed out that PFOA will probably soon be included in the Stockholm Convention, an international environmental treaty that aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants.

Currently, the use of PFOS is regulated by the Stockholm Convention. PFOS was banned in the EU in 2008, and major manufacturers in the US have agreed to stop using PFOA.

“Our study forms the basis for further research and can provide help in aligning international regulations,” said Wang.

The article can be found at: Wang et al. (2016) Levels, Isomer Profiles, and Estimated Riverine Mass Discharges of Perfluoroalkyl Acids and Fluorinated Alternatives at the Mouths of Chinese Rivers.


Source: Örebro University; Photo: Pixabay.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist