Toxic cadmium found in Henan wheat: NGO

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/2 23:58:40

Soil in Henan Province, China's biggest wheat producer, is again at the center of a soil contamination scandal after wheat samples were found to contain up to 18 times the permitted level of cadmium for foodstuffs.

Environmental NGO Airman tested wheat samples from 12 sites in two districts in Xinxiang,  Henan. The samples tested were found to contain two to 18 times the level allowed according to national food safety standards.   

"We know some of the contaminated wheat has found its way onto the shelves, we just don't know how much," Tian Jing, a volunteer from Airman, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Exposure to the heavy metal cadmium can cause toxic effects on human kidneys and the skeletal and respiratory systems, and can lead to cancer, the World Health Organization warns.

This is the third straight year Airman has found wheat from Xinxiang was contaminated. Samples from 2016, taken from farmland near a battery factory, contained 34 times the national standard for cadmium, and in 2015, samples contained 17 times the permitted safe level, according to data on Airman's WeChat account.

Many of the factories in Xinxiang, dubbed the "capital of China's battery industry," are either built on or are next to farmland, and airborne and water pollutants are directly discharged onto agricultural land, Tian said. 

Xinxiang authorities could not be reached by press time, but the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) responded to media reports on the wheat contamination issue at a press conference in June. Henan provincial government has organized experts to check the suspected cadmium-contaminated wheat fields, and has taken samples for testing at the Ministry of Agriculture test center. The results have not been released yet, an official from the MEP said.

"Dakuai township government officials in Xinxiang said that they would examine the wheat samples when they met us on June 24. They promised not to grow wheat again on contaminated farmland," Tian said. The NGO is still waiting for the local government's response.

Henan produces one-quarter of the country's total wheat, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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