Soil contamination in China: current status and mitigation strategies

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Zhao, F-J., Ma, Y., Zhu, Y-G., Tang, Z. and McGrath, S. P. 2015. Soil contamination in China: current status and mitigation strategies. Environmental Science & Technology. 49 (2), pp. 750-759.

AuthorsZhao, F-J., Ma, Y., Zhu, Y-G., Tang, Z. and McGrath, S. P.

China faces great challenges in protecting its soil from contamination caused by rapid industrialization and urbanization over the last three decades. Recent nationwide
surveys show that 16% of the soil samples, 19% for the
agricultural soils, are contaminated based on China’s soil
environmental quality limits, mainly with heavy metals and
metalloids. Comparisons with other regions of the world show
that the current status of soil contamination, based on the total contaminant concentrations, is not worse in China. However, the concentrations of some heavy metals in Chinese soils appear to be increasing at much greater rates. Exceedance of the contaminant limits in food crops is widespread in some areas, especially southern China, due to elevated inputs of contaminants, acidic nature of the soil and crop species or cultivars prone to heavy metal accumulation. Minimizing the transfer of contaminants from soil to the food chain is a top priority. A number of options are proposed, including identification of the sources of contaminants to agricultural systems, minimization of contaminant inputs, reduction of heavy metal phytoavailability in soil with liming or other immobilizing materials, selection and breeding of low accumulating crop cultivars, adoption of appropriate water and fertilizer management, bioremediation, and change of land use to grow nonfood crops. Implementation of these strategies requires not only technological advances, but also social-economic evaluation and effective enforcement of environmental protection law.

Year of Publication2015
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Journal citation49 (2), pp. 750-759
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as green open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDelivering Sustainable Systems (SS) [ISPG]
Optimisation of nutrients in soil-plant systems: Determining how phosphorus availability is regulated in soils
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online16 Dec 2014
Publication process dates
Accepted16 Dec 2014
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society (ACS)

Permalink -

Restricted files

Publisher's version

Under embargo indefinitely

Accepted author manuscript

Under embargo indefinitely

283 total views
1 total downloads
5 views this month
0 downloads this month