Toxic tap water spurs panic buying in China city

April 11, 2014

Tap water in a Chinese city was found to contain excessive levels of the toxic chemical benzene, prompting residents to rush to buy bottled water, state media said on Friday.

Tests conducted on Thursday and Friday showed that in Lanzhou, the capital of northwestern Gansu province, had as much as 200 micrograms of benzene per litre, 20 times the national limit, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing local environment authorities.

Benzene is an aromatic, colourless liquid and a basic raw material used in the petrochemical industry. Human exposure to the chemical increases the risk of cancer and other illnesses.

Part of the city suspended its tapwater supply and residents hurried to supermarkets to snap up bottled water, the state China News Service said.

Lanzhou's environmental protection bureau said it is investigating the source of the pollution and that more sample tests are planned.

Supplier Veolia Water said the contamination may have come from chemical-plant emissions, rather than pollution in the Yellow River that runs through the city, the report said.

Many waterways in China have suffered heavy contamination of toxic waste from factories and farms—pollution blamed on more than three decades of and lax enforcement of laws.

In February 2012, a cargo ship spilled acid into the Yangtze, China's longest river, tainting tap supplies and sparking a run on .

The accident came a month after a more serious environmental scandal in the southwestern region of Guangxi, where factories contaminated water supplies serving millions of people with and other waste.

Explore further: Floods wash chemical barrels into China river

Related Stories

Floods wash chemical barrels into China river

July 29, 2010

Floodwaters have washed 3,000 barrels of explosive chemicals into a major waterway in northeastern China, state media said Thursday, much more than originally reported.

Yangtze river pollution sparks panic in China

February 8, 2012

A cargo ship spilled acid into China's longest river last week, contaminating tap supplies and sparking a run on bottled water in eastern China, the government and state media said.

China 'river pig' deaths raise extinction fears

April 19, 2012

China says 16 endangered finless porpoises have been found dead since the beginning of the year and experts blame water pollution and climate change for pushing the species toward extinction.

Dangerous chemicals found in south China river

July 6, 2013

(AP)—Residents and water plants along a river in southern China that is used as a drinking source have been warned not to use the river's water after authorities detected excessive amounts of two dangerous chemicals.

China hit by new flood of dead pigs in river

March 19, 2014

Chinese authorities have found 157 dead pigs in a river, state media said Wednesday, underscoring the country's food safety problems a year after 16,000 carcasses were discovered in Shanghai's main waterway.

Toxic water scandal hits Italian region

March 28, 2014

An Italian official was forced Friday to reassure residents their water is safe to drink, after tests showed that toxic waste had leaked into the supply in the central region of Abruzzo.

Recommended for you

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change?

November 26, 2015

More than 190 countries are meeting in Paris next week to create a durable framework for addressing climate change and to implement a process to reduce greenhouse gases over time. A key part of this agreement would be the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.