"There is an urgent need to explore the current situation of China's water pollution incidents for policymaking, accident prevention, and risk mitigation. This study analyzed 1528 water pollution incidents in China from 2001 to 2020 and explored the spatiotemporal characteristics and causes of incidents and consequent damage.
The frequency of water pollution accidents increased in 2004, peaked in 2006, and decreased thereafter with a significant decline in 2016. Due to the developed river networks, high population densities, and increasing environmental awareness, pollution incidents were mostly concentrated in China's relatively industrially developed eastern coastal regions.
Illegal emission is the major cause, accounting for 51% of all incidents, but with pipeline construction gradually approaching a peak, pipeline leakage poses a noteworthy risk in the future. Although the severity of accidents has reduced recently, it is still necessary to strengthen the risk prevention strategies for general and major accidents.
Furthermore, three key factors, including economic development, regulations and legal system, and public participation in pollution supervision and control, which affect the trends and characteristics of water pollution incidents in China, were discussed.
This paper offers valuable insights and suggestions that may have useful implications for policymaking and the prevention of water pollution."
China and water pollution in the last 20 years
With these words, the researchers of the study Water pollution incidents and their influencing factors in China during the past 20 years, published on the Environmental monitoring and assessment, explained the retrospective they made regarding a very serious problem in the Aisatic country.
The type of water pollution can be of a chemical, physical or microbiological nature and the consequences can compromise the health of the flora and fauna involved, including humans, harming the ecosystem and water reserves for drinking purposes.
There are two main routes through which pollutants reach the water: either directly or indirectly. Direct pollution occurs when polluting substances are poured directly into water courses without any purification treatment.
The indirect route, on the other hand, occurs when pollutants arrive in watercourses via air or soil. Although the illegal discharge of untreated water allows to avoid the costs of treatment to industries, the resulting pollution can produce damage whose economic evaluation is very often indeterminate as not all effects are immediately evident.
Therefore, tools, techniques and structures are necessary, capable of identifying pollutants, assessing their damage and enforcing the laws for the protection of the environment and common health.