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Vice | Aug 16
VBS travels to the single most polluted place on earth, the coal-mining town of Linfen in Shanxi Province, China, where kids play in dirty rivers a...
In China, a family planning official says his office is seeing an alarming increase in birth defects. Jiang Fan from the national population and family planning commission believes the culprit is pollution.
He says that in China, a baby is born with birth defects every 30 seconds. He points to environmental factors as the cause, noting that the biggest increases in birth defects are in coal-mining areas like Shanxi province. The rising incidence of birth defects is nothing new. Four years ago, the government reported that birth defects had soared by 40% since 2001. Back then, it said that two to three million babies are born with ‘visible defects’ every year. And that as many as twelve million more would develop defects within a couple of years.
A big part of this story is that China's environmental protection system is weak. The central government has only 300 people working at its state environmental protection agency. Compared that to the American EPA which has over six thousand employees. Another problem is that cities and provinces are responsible for a lot of the regulation. And many poorer ones just don't have the money to enforce environmental laws.