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China polluting Mount Fuji: Japanese study

39 Comments

A Japanese study is claiming that toxic air pollution from China is to blame for high mercury levels atop the country's beloved Mount Fuji.

The research will likely do little to help simmering hostilities between the Asian giants, a relationship marred by historical animosities and territorial disputes.

"Whenever readings were high, winds were blowing from the continent (China)," Osamu Nagafuchi, the lead scientist on the study, told AFP.

Fuji was chosen "because it's a place unaffected by urban pollution", said Nagafuchi, an environmental science professor at the University of Shiga Prefecture.

Pollution levels on Fuji have been monitored annually since 2007, he said, adding the decision to carry out the study on the 3,776-meter peak had nothing to do with it being designated a UNESCO World Heritage site earlier this year.

The UNESCO designation led to a surge in visitors to the iconic peak -- which figures heavily in Japanese art and literature -- during this summer's climbing season.

Mercury levels around the top of peak were up to double levels found in other places free of heavy pollution, according to the survey, conducted in August with non-profit group Valid Utilization of Mount Fuji Weather Station.

The levels were as high as 2.8 nanograms of mercury in one cubic meter of air.

That is above levels around 1.0 to 1.5 nanograms normally detected in clean places, but still below the 40 nanogram government threshold for posing risks to human health. A nanogram is one billionth of a gram.

The higher-than-expected readings are likely due to Chinese factories burning coal, which releases mercury and other toxic elements -- such as arsenic -- which were also elevated, Nagafuchi said.

The study comes as fast-industrialising China wrestles with a severe urban air pollution problem linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths.

Last month, China vowed to reduce levels of atmospheric pollutants in Beijing and other major cities by as much as 25% to try to improve their dire air quality.

© (C) 2013 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
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Ok there may be some scientific evidence to prove this however, the way I see it, it's just another issue for Japan to complain about china. Personally I think this childish behavior is getting old.

-6 ( +17 / -23 )

What goes around comes around. Japanese are happy to buy all the cheap Disney and 100yen shop type stuff that comes from China, and that fuels the demand for the power stations.

0 ( +14 / -14 )

Ok there may be some scientific evidence to prove this however, the way I see it, it's just another issue for Japan to complain about china. Personally I think this childish behavior is getting old.

Japan needs China (and Korea) as fodder for blame. It's a convenient way to deflect blame away from its own internal problems.

0 ( +19 / -18 )

Ok there may be some scientific evidence to prove this however, the way I see it, it's just another issue for Japan to complain about china. Personally I think this childish behavior is getting old.

More reasons why people should stop relying on English resources exclusively when dealing with Japan-China issues. Guess which country is increasing her budget to help combat the problem (PM 2.5) which another nation faces despite the tensions?

http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNZO59011130Y3A820C1CR8000/

7 ( +16 / -8 )

And were readings taken when the wind was blowing from Tokyo ??

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Although there is a territorial dispute between the two countries and other various issues, by using the wisdom and technologies of the two nations it may take some time but the problem can be solved I believe.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

So exactly how dangerous is the air around this mountain? Also have they finished making an evacuation plan in the event of an eruption? Should it explode.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I did a rough order of magnitude estimate of the claimed background level of mercury and the estimate is a total of 100,000 KG of the stuff floating around in the planet's atmosphere, roughly 1,000 liters if in the liquid form. That would fit in two tank cars. Interesting, but nothing to start a conflict.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So exactly how dangerous is the air around this mountain?

The article gives a clue - as high as 2.8 nanograms.....below the 40 nanogram government threshold for posing risks to human health

6 ( +8 / -2 )

"The study comes as fast-industrialising China wrestles with a severe urban air pollution problem linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths.

Last month, China vowed to reduce levels of atmospheric pollutants in Beijing and other major cities by as much as 25% to try to improve their dire air quality."

The Chinese have screwed up by not doing nearly enough to control pollution.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Let the blame games begin!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Like, Ok, China is polluting a lot of places w/ unregulated industry that is rapidly growing. However Japan has enough of its own industrial pollutants, too, and to the extent that J companies have made factories all over China, JAPAN IS ITSELF RESPONSIBLE FOR (some of) THE POLLUTION COMING FROM CHINA.

Tell it like it is, J-press.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

Mercury from burning much coals is vaporized in the air. Pollutants are spreading falling on mountains and lands all over the world and finally rain water wash them into oceans. As a result, all marine animals absorb them little by little and humans eat them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It merely stated a sientific evidence. Japan has been offering help to China to combat this issue. No need to get mad at Japan.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

So, Japan is complaining about small amounts of pollutants coming from China while tens of thousands of tons of radioactive water has been 'leaked' into the ocean and environment at Fukushima? Every person on the planet that has ever bought a cheap Chinese product shares responsibility for the pollution coming out of China, but Japan is solely responsible for the radiation leakage at Fukushima. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!"

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

"Pollution levels on Fuji have been monitored annually since 2007"

Good job they didn't do that in the '70s and '80s when you couldn't see your hand in front of your face in Kawasaki and Tokyoites reminisced about the days when you could see Fuji from Shinjuku in winter...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

And yet with Fukushima spewing out and leaking radiation everywhere there is a lift of the ban on selling seafood from the area, government insistence that it is no threat and is under control (despite finding readings WAY above the increased approved level), and many nationals crying when another nation wants to ban imports from Japan based on very real radiation measurements.

Then you get this ridiculous sensationalism, as though China were literally attacking a site the local populace has been dumping garbage on for ages.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Poorly made plastic and other fake chinese made junk soon finds it's way into landfills or being burned all over the world, so it's not simply a matter of finding Chinese pollutants on the top if Mt. Fuji - this just gives graphical meaning to the fact that China's main export is pollution.

That is why I and many like minded people won't buy or use anything made in china.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

It seems that Japan is just telling mercury substances to China. Unless someone tells China, it would never think about it seriously. As to PM2.5 (particulate matter 2.5mm) substances, China did not take it seriously before, but now very serious about PM2.5 because of Chinese people's health.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Made in China. (C) As usual.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Mitch Cohen

Japan needs China (and Korea) as fodder for blame. It's a convenient way to deflect blame away from its own internal problems.

What on Earth are you talking about? What 'internal problems' are you referring to?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Yes, the whole world is to blame for buying Chinese junk from that muderous regime that counts on slave labor and hyper pollution for its survival.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

It's a fiendish plan by the evil Chinese to destroy the national symbol of Japan and annex the country as part of the Great Middle Kingdom!

(sounds of maniacal laughter off stage)

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Fuji was chosen “because it’s a place unaffected by urban pollution”

Come again? How much trash gets deposited on Fuji Mountain every year? Is that urban pollution or not? As usual japanese only choose to see and hear what they want. Facts are exceptionally hard to swallow. It is their pride you see.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So why is China getting the blame again?

Oh yes. We don't like China, do we?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Not surprised in the least! It is 100% proven scientif fact that china not only has the highest pollution rates in the entire world, the have the highest cancer rate in the world, and they have the highest birth defect rate in the world. Is it really a surpise their (governments, nothing against Chinese people except maybe their inability to stand up to the currupot government, but then the Americans are even worse aren't they?) total lack of respect for human life and the world would not spread other coutnries. All this fuss about nuclear power in Japan. What about China?! I have not heard one peep out of you 100% anti nucealr folks about other coutnries. Look at all the polutions China spreads around. You really trust them with nucleaer power? Well they have more nuke plants than Japan and building about 12 more RIGHT NOW. Vietnam is too. My uni in Japan is in talks to train the new group of nuclear engineering that will oversee the Vietnam reactor. I can pretty much promise you. If a "Fukushima" happens in China or Vietnam, or Taiwan, it will be worse. They do not have the billions of dollars to throw at it like Japan does. Japan may be doing a poor job, but they have still contained the problem to a 50km radius. BAD? you bet! Think Japan like to cover things up and lie. Imagine a melt down in China. Remember the bullet train wreck they had. They tried to bury the thing before the press could get there so no one would find out. A wreck that killed dozens!!! BURY IT!!!

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

ControlFreak,

That's right.

The current stance is to diss China.

And don't you forget it!

(sarcasm)

1 ( +4 / -3 )

You would intake more mercury in shark fin soup then what is in the atmosphere ,it is not coming from burning coal.in China. What about the coal Japan uses in its industries.. Then their is the little matter or the radiation in the ocean from Japan being detected in fish.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan needs China (and Korea) as fodder for blame. It's a convenient way to deflect blame away from its own internal problems.

China and Korea should be concerned about this results more seriously because if mercury is found atop of Mt. Fuji, their countries may be contaminated worse than Japan. I heard their construction sites or roads are contaminated with mercury, lead, or even radiation because they use contaminated materials.

Before blaming Japan, why don't you advise them to do researches about mercury contamination over there?

Japanese trust scientific researches not feng shui.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

noooooo china

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it sucks to be down wind.........

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Maybe there should be more than one monitoring station. Maybe, if the scientists had a wider sampling, they could model the distribution of mercury and figure out precisely where it's coming from and how. Maybe they could give us something more meaningful than "blame China."

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It's a good thing Japan doesn't have any mercury in their pollution, otherwise one could come to the conclusion some of that is domestic.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Poorly made plastic and other fake chinese made junk soon finds it's way into landfills or being burned all over the world, so it's not simply a matter of finding Chinese pollutants on the top if Mt. Fuji - this just gives graphical meaning to the fact that China's main export is pollution.

That is why I and many like minded people won't buy or use anything made in china.

I don't know how you and your minded people typed your comments. Please let me know since I don't know how to locate a computer or a phone NOT made in China. Also instead of blaming everything on China, try to pressure the big corporations to pay fare wages and help improve local environment standards (of China or any other low-cost developing countries) , instead of squeezing out every penny of profits.

Yes, it pains me to see the mistakes China and some other poor developing countries have been making and the huge price they have been paying in the last 10 ~ 15 years, to become the low cost manufacturing base, with minimal profit sharing, but huge damages to the local environment. But for you to turn around and blame Chinese for the "junk" that's made to the specifications AND price dictated by the western corporations and consumers, it only shows your deep rooted bigotry and hypocrisy.

Btw, I hope you also find this revealing: http://www.economist.com/news/international/21570678-growing-mounds-electronic-scrap-can-mean-profits-or-scandals-cadmium-lining

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The "Chinese" pollution poses no risk to human health. I wonder how the researchers separated pollution from Chinese coal-burning power stations from that from Japanese coal-burning power stations and other heavy industry in Tokyo, Nagoya etc? Surely they don't claim that ALL of the excess mercury comes from China? Take a look at the cloud of filthy air that hangs above Tokyo next time you are landing at Narita.

If the Japanese are so concerned about pollution of Mt. Fuji why do they drop tons of rubbish on the mountain each year?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"All this fuss about nuclear power in Japan. What about China?! I have not heard one peep out of you 100% anti nucealr folks about other coutnries."

Well, that might be because this is a "Japan Today" forum where people make comments predominantely about guess what, Japan. If and when a Fukushima magnitude accident happens in China or anywhere else for that matter I,m sure the "anti nuclear folks " will comment on appropriate forums.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Did they measure the frequent wind gust blowing from southeast direction? How about taking a reading from Chiba Prefecture because I know a little about that when I worked in Japan.

The predominant effects of Tokyo or Kanto's "air", wind and weather is directly affected by the current and wind gust from Chiba. The carry over from any wind from China, especially something so heavy such as mercury is HIGHLY exaggerated. These scientists better have solid evidence of the composition of these elements that supports its origin. Or they need to be fired.

Don't try to defuse Japan's own "pollution" problem by blaming others. There are days in Tokyo where you will need a mouth guard just to walk across the street. Japan should be the country that is most sympathetic to China on pollution because China is doing exactly what Japan was doing when it was building up its industrial complex and infrastructures. Now that Japan is a developed country, it can "afford" to shift its "dirtiest" entities to other countries such as China and pollute their land with the excuse of helping them build and modernize. How about Japan using that same "clean air code" standard used in Japan while building all those polluting plants in China or the Philippines.

Why don't we start with Kawasaki Steel for example???

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Lots of anti Chinese sentiments.... even in environmental research now. Sad!

You think we get it bad? think about the people living in China, they product the worlds demand for cheap goods their people make less than nothing and have to live in polution. Sad!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Auto sales hit 18 million vehicles in China last year and increase in pollution will continue. China is doing what any other developing countries does. They are doing so on a much larger scale because of their inflated population. There is no reason why they should have to give up their vehicles. Will people in the U.S. give up their autombiles? There is a reason for them to try to develop a vehicle that runs environmentally friendly and they are actually the perfect country to do so.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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