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Thread: Pineapple heavy metal contamination

  1. #1
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Pineapple heavy metal contamination

    South African pineapple farmers have been hit hard as a result of heavy metal contamination of fertiliser.

    High levels of the toxic heavy metal cadmium have been found in South African pineapples after farmers unwittingly used fertiliser contaminated with this trace element.

    As a result, at least one shipment of canned pineapples from SA has been rejected in the European Union.

    The fertiliser, zinc sulphate, is used "across the board" by South African agriculture.

    Later tests revealed that the fertiliser also contained elevated levels of arsenic and lead.

    Full story on IOL
    The EU has quite strict limits on hazardous materials, and I hope that South Africa will update their outdated laws (see article) with regards to these materials. The EU won't allow the contaminated pineapples to be imported to the EU.

    If you happen to be in, or know anything about the electronics industry you will certainly have come across the EU's RoHS directive (Reduction of Hazardous Materials), which limits the levels of six substances (lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)). The impact on manufacturing has been huge due to the change from leaded solder to unleaded.

    To me these directives are pretty interesting as they are actively seeking to lower the levels of the dangerous materials. I've been doing some reading on mercury, and it alone is linked to a huge number of diseases and disorders. We need this kind of advanced regulation in SA, but if we can't get some of the basics right, how will be manage to get a grip on these?

  2. #2
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    China seems to be having some pretty serious pollution and contaminant problems making the news right now.
    Top China official pessimistic on fixing food safety woes
    Beijing - A top China food safety official announced new measures aimed at curbing an epidemic of dangerous Chinese-made food products but admitted success could prove elusive.

    China plans to set up comprehensive food safety evaluation systems in 31 cities by the end of the year and to implement other measures, the State Food and Drug Administration official was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying.

    However, difficulties expected in upgrading such systems, plus the growing scale of the problem, will pose severe challenges, said Sun Xianze, head of the administration's food safety coordination department.

    "China is in a time of serious food safety risks and our task of fixing this is extremely arduous. Despite some recent improvements, the food safety outlook is no cause for optimism," he was quoted as telling a Beijing food safety symposium.
    full story from Business Report here
    And earlier today I picked up on this story.
    China blames social unrest on anger over pollution
    The head of China's environmental agency has blamed the rising number of riots, demonstrations and petitions across the country on public anger at pollution.

    Echoing the language of the Cultural Revolution, Zhou Shengxian called for a "struggle" against polluters, and said the public refused to accept the increasing degradation of the environment.

    His unusually outspoken comments underscore the frustration of state mandarins at local government officials who ignore environmental standards in order to attract investment, jobs and bribes.

    Breakneck growth has turned China into a huge environmental disaster area. A soon-to-be-published World Bank report says some 500 000 people die each year as a result of pollution.

    Beijing is trying to shift the economy on to a more sustainable development track. The state council -- China's Cabinet -- tightened the water pollution law to require more testing, licensing and stiffer penalties, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.

    But factory owners who violate state guidelines are often protected by local officials. According to Zhou, the state environmental protection administration chief, many plants build secret pipes to discharge polluting chemicals. Others release toxins when locals are asleep.
    full story from M&G here
    My thoughts on this last story was around the price of China's recent phenomenal economic growth spurt. Clearly citizen health is part of that cost just at the moment.
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