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Survey: Emissions Pollute Farm Fields

In Nanjing, capital city of east China’s Jiangzu Province, fields next to roads are being polluted by fumes from the growing number of cars, according to the initial findings of a survey.


The authorities say if the survey proves to be correct, they will have to deal with the problem.


Experts are now appealing to road construction planning departments in the province to pay attention to the pollution and think harder about where to let the nation's cars go.


A survey by the Nanjing Environment Science Research Institute showed automobile emissions are polluting the fields.


"According to our estimates, if the departments concerned do not take measures to protect fields along the roads as transport rapidly develops, about 10 percent of the fields in the province will be polluted by car exhaust fumes," said Lin Yusuo, a soil expert with the institute.


He was one of the researchers participating in the project. With his colleagues, he carried out a two-year investigation of the fields along the roads.


The research group surveyed fields between 200 and 250 meters away from the roads. Included were those along the Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway, the Nanjing-Lianyungang Expressway, the No 104 the No 205 State highways.


The experts found lead pollution was rather serious in some places, and could be mainly caused by automobile exhaust fumes.


"Take the Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway for example. In some sections the lead content of the wheat greatly exceeds the national standard," Lin said.


"The highest lead content of the wheat is 6.98 times more than the national standard, and the average lead content is about two or three times as much as the national standard."


He said the lead content of wheat is influenced by many factors. The most important are the lead content of the soil and pollution caused by automobile exhaust fumes.


He said there are more than 5 million hectares of fields and more than 60,000 kilometers of roads - including over 2,000 kilometers of expressways - in the whole province. It is estimated that over 10 percent of the farmland is adjacent to highways.


"Given that more roads will be built in the future, we have estimated that one-10th of the fields and their crops will be affected by car emission pollution if we do not take effective measures," he emphasized.


"The initial results are only an estimate. We hope the government and the road construction planning departments can give sufficient attention to the problem and try to stop it," he said.


"For example, growing some trees along the roads may effectively prevent the spread of lead from automobiles emissions," he suggested.


Yan Zhiming, an official with the Jiangsu Provincial Communications Bureau said they did not think automobile exhaust fumes could pollute crops.


"If what is being said proves to be true, we will work out good measures to solve the problem."


(China Daily May 11, 2005)

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