29% of Water Deemed Unsuitable for Human Consumption in China’s Top Coal Province

Written by Lorraine Chow and reposted with permission from EcoWatch

We know that Trump digs coal, but of all the fossil fuels, coal is Earth’s biggest polluter. The environmental impact of the coal industry is vast and devastating. And now, production of this cheap energy source has rendered nearly a third of the surface water in China’s largest coal province unsuitable for human consumption.

Yangtze river

A woman fetches water from the Yangtze river. Since 2003, factory construction has erupted all around Yanglingang. Today the little fishing village is surrounded by power plants, paper-making factories, and chemical plants. Photo Credit: Lu Guang / Greenpeace

The Shanxi Environmental Protection Bureau, a local environmental watchdog, announced that 29 out of 100 surface water sites tested in the first three quarters of 2016 were found to be “below grade five,” Reuters reported. At that pollution level, water has “lost functionality” and may only be suitable for industrial or agricultural use.

According to Reuters, the bureau said that while the water quality improved at 11 test sites compared to the year before, eight had deteriorated, including five sites in the major coal hub of Datong. Coal production in Shanxi decreased to 944 million tonnes in 2015 compared to 976 million tonnes in 2014.

Sure, China’s coal industry provides jobs and allows people to heat their homes but the smog-choked country has paid a price for it. As Dr. David Suzuki wrote, “Beijing’s 21-million residents live in a toxic fog of particulate matter, ozone, sulphur dioxide, mercury, cadmium, lead and other contaminants, mainly caused by factories and coal burning. Schools and workplaces regularly shut down when pollution exceeds hazardous levels. People have exchanged paper and cotton masks for more elaborate, filtered respirators. Cancer has become the leading cause of death in the city and throughout the country.”

That being said, China’s coal use is on the decline. After reaching peak coal in 2013, the country is rapidly shifting to renewables, according to the latest International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook Report.

“Coal generated 84 percent of all electricity in China in 2014, the IEA’s current policy scenario forecasts that market share is going to drop down to 54 per cent in 2040,” Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis director Tim Buckley told ABC.net.

In a new study published in the journal Earth System Science Data, researchers found that China’s decline in coal has led to a global slowdown in carbon dioxide emissions. “Emissions have leveled off at about 36 billion metric tonnes in the past three years even though the world economy has expanded,” the Independent reported from the study.

China’s shift from coal is actually part of a larger global trend. An Energydesk analysis revealed that coal use around the world is dropping at a record-breaking rate as commodity markets are tanking, renewable energy is rising and energy demand growth is slowing.

Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to bring back coal in the U.S. The climate-denier-in-chief has also promised to gut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, pull out of the Paris climate treaty and undo President Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing carbon pollution from power plants to tackle climate change.

Photo Credit: eutrophication&hypoxia/Flickr


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill12 months ago

The problem is more with China than with the coal mines.

Mark Donner
Mark Donnerabout a year ago

Hopefully Trump's body will respond to the monster inhabiting it and shut down. Artery disease in a 70 year old can kill him just when he thinks he is all set to attack Americans and the world. I want to see Trump die of his 70 year old artery disease so bad, I can almost taste his heart attack.

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Wabout a year ago

Thanks for posting it.

william Miller
william Millerabout a year ago


Janet B.
Janet Babout a year ago


Anne F.
Anne Fabout a year ago

thanks for the important story

Past Member
Past Member about a year ago

Trash trump pos.

Debbi -.
Debbi -about a year ago

Trump doesn't believe/understand science so he's backing the coal industry. If he likes China's air and environment so much, why doesn't he spend more time there. Here in the U.S. we like breathing without a mask. Let us keep it that way! Coal miners are not healthy and neither are their families. Let re-educate them so they can get healthier jobs.