Pollution in China

Here is yet another story about pollution in China.

One of the many reasons our factories moved overseas is because it is so expensive for companies to be responsible from a pollution standpoint, and that’s pretty much a requirement in the US, while not so much in countries like China, India, Mexico, and Pakistan. I’m not saying the solution to the problem is to allow US factories and mines to treat the environment like a toilet, I’m just pointing out one of the many reasons factories in other countries can make goods so much cheaper than factories in the U.S.

Cadmium, the current news item, is used in things like ni-cad batteries, paint, plastics, and children’s costume jewelry. Which points to a whole ‘nother problem of “no government regulation”.

Most of the news stories yesterday did not mention the name of the mining firm. Why is that? In the U.S. the offending company’s name is front and center of our news articles. I’m seeing a few articles this morning that state the name of the mining company: The Guangxi Jinhe Mining Co. Ltd is accused of dumping massive amounts of cadmium into the river. When the first news articles came out, it felt as if someone were protecting the mining firm. Things that make you go… hmmmmm.

The US was responsible for some horrible pollution back sixty years go. Even forty years ago. The politicians have managed to regulate it out, but they did a sloppy job of it by making it so complicated. Our pollution laws cover thousands of pages, and companies have to spend a whole lot of money to be sure they are compliant. I think it’s Sweden, if I’m remembering correctly, that has almost no pollution and a very thin pollution law book. They can do that because they thought things through. Simple laws, like, your river intake has to be downstream from what you put back into the river.

From an environmental perspective, I believe China is about where we were in the fifties, possibly early sixties. It’s only a matter of time before things reach a critical mass and they start regulating better to keep pollution to a minimum. The question is… how much time? The federal government in China really doesn’t have the kind of authority over the provinces that our federal government has.

In the meanwhile, there are pages and pages out there documenting the horrible pollution in China. This page is a pretty big eye opener, though without the ability to transport the smell to your computer screen, I’m not sure the impact is anywhere near what it should be.

I’m talking about China because China is relevant to those of us with kids who were born in China… but China isn’t the only place this is a problem.

For those bringing a child home from a heavily polluted area, the best we can do is put as much good nutrition into them, and to keep as many pollutants away from them, as possible. My intention was to not add to the pollution already in their system, and to try to counter it with good stuff. That requires research, as pollutants show up in places you don’t often expect. I fed my girls from glass bottles, I used glass and stainless steel sippy cups, and fed them locally grown fruits and vegetables as much as possible. I didn’t allow lotions or oils with petroleum products to touch their skin. I didn’t put cotton fireproof pajamas on them at night, and only used a few brands of fleece or polyester pajamas – the ones I’d checked out to be sure weren’t treated with chemicals. My list is endless, but I’d like to spend the next few weeks talking about ways to keep toxins away from our kids.

I can’t stop the pollution happening around the world, but I can do my best to keep it from coming into contact with my family in our home.


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22 Responses to “Pollution in China”

  1. mallmarie Says:

    Bravo to you, RQ, for your use of glass/metal in bottles, sippies, etc. In retrospect, I would do the same today. I did dump all my plastic food containers (Rubbermaid, etc.) and replace them with glass bowls for storing leftovers. I, too, avoided putting my kids in chemically treated pajamas and nightgowns. While I firmly believe that the whole vaccination/autism myth is just that – a myth- I do feel that some of the chemical pollutants in our kids’ environment and diet might just possibly be responsible for some of the disorders that have cropped up in large numbers over the last 30 or 40 years.

  2. doc33 Says:

    I know about the cups and storage containers, but honestly, I never thought about bath wash, shampoos, lotions, and pajamas. Can you point me to some good products?

  3. willowflower Says:

    People don’t often think of skin/shampoo products but they are absorbed through the skin. Lots of places now sell better products. If you have a Whole Foods locally, that is a great resources for healthier products. Olive oil is great for skin so sometimes simple things work. Also, if you have nail polish around with little girls, toss it and go for a water-based formula that is free of toxic solvents. This website rates the dangers of specific cosmetics so you can look up different products and see the safety ratings.

  4. RumorQueen Says:

    The vaccination thing is a pretty hot subject. Personally, I think that bombarding kids with that many at one time is a horrible thing to do to their system. I mean, vaccinations activate the immune system, and so many of the “current day” problems are auto-immune problems. In my not-a-medical-person logical opinion, the schedule that many people have to follow to bring their adopted kids up to speed it just too many in too short of a time frame. Luckily, my doctor agreed, and my kids got their vaccines spread out over more time. There is also the issue of the toxins in the vaccines – things that are needed to keep the vaccines from growing bacteria and becoming dangerous, but things that just add toxins into bodies that already likely have way more toxins than a child’s body should have. I’m not anti-vaccine, my kids are vaccinated… but I do think you should use common sense when deciding which to get first and which can probably be put off for a bit. But, again, I’m not in the medical field, so talk to your doctor about it.

    doc33 – that’s the plan. I’m going to put together blog posts over the next week or two to talk about the things I used, and the things I avoided. As willoflower said, sometimes it’s as easy as going to your kitchen – we use olive oil for our skin as much as we use it to cook with.

  5. MyDaughtersMom Says:

    One obvious problem with pollution from China is that, the only real thing separating us, is the Pacific ocean. If they dump into the Pacific ocean, regardless of it being vast waters….the fish we eat and marine mammals travel to both the North Pacific and South Pacific regions.
    And the obvious problems with pollution created in Mexico, are that often times, food is imported from Mexico, and they do not have the same regulations on pesticides as we do. And of course, the Pacific ocean once again, has no natural boarders, leaving everyone along the coast very vulnerable.

    Just one more tidbit about food pollutants.
    Cotton seed oil!!!

    Cotton seed oil is found in prepared foods VERY OFTEN. Foods that you would not even consider need oil…
    Cotton seed oil is horrible to digest, mainly because cotton is not considered a food by the FDA. So, cotton farms can still use very harmful, and more importantly, poisonous carcinogen causing pesticides on cotton. These pesticides are NOT FDA regulated for food consumption. The pesticides then collect in the seeds, and become concentrated in the seed itself. When the oil is then expelled from the seed, that becomes the highest concentration of the pesticide. The food manufacturers (including those in the US) are able to then USE cotton seed oil in place of other oils intended for food ingestion. Cotton seed oil is much cheaper to purchase than food grade oils.
    And because cotton is not considered a food, the pesticides are not regulated for consumption. It’s probably the worst oil they could put into food products, and you will find it in a lot of prepared foods, including Sunny D…an orange juice???? Unreal.
    And just when you think they can’t top it…Oh, they can. They usually go a step further by making it partially hydrogenated cotton seed oil, to add to the shelf life.

  6. kareninmt Says:

    ABSOLUTELY! Happy to hear you bring out this topic. I don’t know how many times I have brought up the subject on the forums and got no response. It seemed that many parents don’t want to really look at this subject very deeply. It is really hard to live by a different standard. We do not use nail polish. I try to keep the lotions down. We avoid plastics. Use safe cookware. Do not wear the fireproof sleepwear. I try feed the children really well, but can’t completely afford the organic. Not only were the children exposed to high chemicals in China, but many people do have children with added health problems. I have children that carry Hep B and it is extra important for them to be raised as freely as possible from added chemicals. It is so hard when they are given constant gifts of cheap candy, nail polish and lotions. How do you handle that? It makes me feel bad, because no matter what I do we still often end up with something I feel strongly about not using. Uggggg…. I too had my children get vaccines spread out as much as possible and only when they were healthy. Of course I watched them jab a bunch of vaccines into my older daughter in China. So tough!!!!

  7. RumorQueen Says:

    MyDaughtersMom – isn’t it interesting how we all have this one thing that we feel everyone should know about? Nail polish is huge, most people have no idea what is in it, or that it seeps into their bloodstream, and the issues it can create. Willowflower brought that one up.

    And you with the cottonseed oil. You are correct that it’s bad, and that most people don’t understand the problems with it. I just find it interesting to hear what people feel the strongest about.

    I want everyone to understand what is wrong with HFCS – high fructose corn syrup. And the commercials out right now… “sugar is sugar, your body can’t tell the difference”, just tick me off. It’s bothering at least one doctor, too. Here is his blog post about it: — I’ll be quoting from that when I talk about it in detail. Here’s a Princeton piece about it:

    I also want people to understand why putting petroleum products on your skin is a bad idea, and that almost all of the name brand lotions are petroleum products.

    I guess I don’t have one big thing, I probably have four or five big things, and then a hundred or so smaller things.

  8. willowflower Says:

    I agree with RQ about vaccines. Our kids’ pediatrician helps us create an individual vaccine schedule where we only do one vaccine at a time so that we don’t overwhelm their immune systems.

    Nail polish and polish removers are very dangerous (neurotoxic, carcinogenic, hormone disruptors, etc.) and can not only be absorbed into the skin causing issues but also can cause serious lung damage when inhaled.

    Another thing to think about is bedding. It often contains a number of toxins (formaldehyde, etc.). We use organic sheets, blankets, coverlets and duvets. The sets used to be very difficult to find but also very expensive. Target and Bed, Bath and, Beyond now carry inexpensive sets. Even Pottery Barn Kids and PB Teens now carry relative inexpensive sets (more than target, but they also have 20% off white sales to save a little more). I became completely convinced about bedding after decorating my older daughter’s room in a custom Waverly fabric that had a stain guard. She never had had a sleep issue but as soon as her new duvet and shams were put on her bed, she started sleep walking…and talking. It was creepy…she used to come to my room, open my door and just stand there staring at us until we woke up. For some reason, I removed the bedding, and she slept through the night. We then tried this experiment over and over again, without telling her. She never, ever slept walked without that bedding on her bed. I finally took that expensive set and tossed it out…and she never slept walked again. Not a scientific study but enough to convince us all that there was something very long with the chemicals in that bedding.

    I’m also careful when I buy furniture that I buys untreated fabrics that don’t have excess chemicals or stain guards.

  9. mgerte Says:

    I would love to hear more about the lotions and particularly the petroleum. My son has hypothryoidism which gives him very dry skin. The endocrinologist said to use petroleum jelly and not any lotions, which we do, but is this bad? I would love the insight.

  10. kareninmt Says:

    Also sunscreen! We only use it during peak times of heavy exposure. There are probably more natural products. If so I’d like to know as we spend lots of time outside. Also just being covered during those peak times especially helps. So many people don’t seem to understand the whole sunscreen thing either and lather themselves up excessively when it might not even be needed.

  11. Molpugh Says:

    There was a very striking presentation done on “This American Life” a couple weeks ago about factories in China and Apple ipads, for one. I listened to it on podcast. It is called “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” #454, Jan. 6, 2012.

    One of those stories that you hear and don’t quite know what to do about what you now know…

    Anyway, it occured to me then as it does reading your post today that there is something odd about the fact that we adopt our children from areas in China where they might have otherwise been future employees of these factories or where their family and/or extended family members might work in the factories and we bring them home to our countries and treat them in their daily lives with the very products that they or their families might have produced but never themselves owned or used — like iPads for one thing according to the podcast.

    Does this make sense what I am trying to say? We are raising our children to exploit their own families….without giving it much thought day in and day out… and it is not just China, of course.

    And I am not sure what to do about it, to be honest.

  12. dlfamily Says:

    “The (US) politicians have managed to regulate it out, but they did a sloppy job of it by making it so complicated. Our pollution laws cover thousands of pages, and companies have to spend a whole lot of money to be sure they are compliant. I think it’s Sweden, if I’m remembering correctly, that has almost no pollution and a very thin pollution law book. They can do that because they thought things through.”

    Many of these companies also spend a lot of money buying US politicians to make sure the rules favor the corporations’ interests over those of people who’s health might be affected. This tends to make the rules more complicated.

    The comparison with Sweden is interesting. The population of Sweden is about 3% that of the US. So there are fewer industries and activities to regulate. Furthermore the average Swedish voter has a rather socially responsible view of the environment, and typically does not have to choose between politicians who have been bought by corporations.

  13. portlandval Says:

    My second daughter comes from one of the most polluted provinces in China. She has an invisible genetic issue that was discovered when they were treating her medical needs. This will affect her ability to have biological children and other things that are unknown at this time because the developmental issues may not manifest or…. they may. No one knows. We just have no idea what her adult life will be like given her genetic profile which is rare and understudied.
    I have often wondered the extent to which environmental pollution might have been a related factor.

    We can think that this issue doesn’t affect us but it most certainly does! You almost have to be an expert to figure it all out. Mindlessly using our food and other commerical goods without reading labels or questionning is just not a good idea. I think it is a misplaced trust….just ask my gut. I can’t eat the mass produced wheat any more. I had no problems as a child but now …no can do! Thanks for this discussion. I go in and out of awareness.

  14. MyDaughtersMom Says:

    RQ-intetresting topic…Thanks for all your insight. As well as everyone else. Knowledge is power…and combined knowledge is even more powerful.

    Another thing that I saw on a documentary at one time, is about recycling. I don’t know if anything has changed since I saw this about 5 or 6 years ago, but it was really astounding to see and hear.
    Apparently, many times when people in the US recycle e-waste (computers and the like), and batteries, they’re shipped overseas to be disposed of. The “disposal” then becomes a junkyard heyday in India and China. Low paid workers are paid to dismantle the waste parts, and they leave the unwanted parts and rotting batteries to become part of the landscape along the shipping beaches.
    I really hope things have changed with our own international policies about shipping our unwanted recyclables somewhere else, since then, but it would not surprise me if things have not changed at all.
    Out of sight, out of mind.

  15. MyDaughtersMom Says:

    Molpugh- That very thought has struck me as well. Hearing something as simple as the old adage, “Eat your dinner, there are people starving in China”. My daughter was told that by a very sweet elderly man once, without intending to mean anything derogatory, and it stuck with her. She turned to me the other day and said, “You know, there are people starving in China, right now!” I didn’t quite know what to do with that, as I looked into her eyes, knowing that she was from a very poor area of that very country. There are people starving in the US as well…but hearing it from her about China instead made me give pause.

  16. mmsmom Says:

    This is another timely post for my family. After work today, I am going to mix up some organic hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
    My middle daughter has had horrible eczema and needs steroid cream to help it subside. It started after I had our carpets cleaned with “green” cleaning solution. Plus, our babysitter must have something in her house that both of my daughters are reacting to, so I have asked her to stop spraying the air fresheners, which make me sick to my stomach.
    We also use safe cookware, and step by step, I am trying to eliminate the chemicals in our environment. By the way, a study done with the flame retardant pajamas showed that after three washings, it was eliminated. I wonder at the experimental design, though, after reading from the person who had to remove the Waverly bedding from her daughter’s room. I can’t wait to hear more on this topic so that I can continue to get good ideas. Anyone that has gotten relief from eczema symptoms, I would love to hear about them!
    Thanks to everyone for your thoughts!

  17. RumorQueen Says:

    dfamily – all very good points.

    kareninmt – Yes, sunscreen!

    Molpugh – yeah, it’s not a pretty thought, but the odds are it’s true for at least some of our kids. I think though, that if their biological families knew their child was going to be using one of the items they were assembling, they would be happy for them.

    As for the “people starving” thing, that was true when I was growing up. Literally true. Now I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that, percentage wise, there are probably just as many people without food in the U.S. as there is in China. Food is plentiful in China now.

  18. RumorQueen Says:

    Oh yeah, exzema… try extra virgin coconut oil. Pay attention to who makes it and what is in it, to be sure it doesn’t have anything in it besides the coconut oil.

    I put other things in our coconut oil (some mint and cinnamon and a few other things depending on what is going on at the time), but just the plain stuff should work.

    There are some natural oatmeal products out there, too, but I can’t remember the name of them off the top of my head.

  19. chickensoupforchina Says:

    The “Sugar is sugar” adds fry my rear too. I really wish people would wake up about HFCS. It’s just about impossible to avoid completely. If you figured out a way, kudos. I don’t have the stuff in my house, but I can’t control every other house where she has a play date, etc. It just amazes me how uninformed people are with regard to that poison.

  20. kareninmt Says:

    Another thought I just had was LIP GLOSS! Oh….my! Because I don’t let my girls do anything else they have hundreds of chap stick things. They get them for gifts, Sunday school, prizes at school…… I don’t know what is in that junk but they are constantly spreading it on their lips and eating it off.

  21. momto4hopefully Says:

    This is such an important conversation. Both of my boys ahve a SN directly related to pollution. It is a direct result of their biologiacal mother being exposed to cemicals that make plastic. It is also had a rapid increase in diagnosed cases int he last 20 years and his urologist feels that is obviously realated to the use of these chemicals at alarming rates. I also do my best to avoid chemcials but with 4 soon to be 5 kids, I did not know about a few of these things. The pajamas never occured to me but so logical. That is what bothers me the most, it is so hard to navigate keeping this stuff away from my kids. It should not be this difficult to make healthy choices for my family.

  22. 1edieb Says:

    I worry about my daughter born in an industrial city (Wuhan) and living there for her first 6 years. She seems to have alot of allergies to pollen etc but luckily no skin issues yet to indicate contact allergies. We too have worked with our doctor to spread out our daughter’s vaccines. So greatful for the time, thought, and effort you put into this website.