Newsletter No 3 September 2013

IVM active in China

One sixth of China’s soil is contaminated with heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants such as DDT and lindane. In addition to combating air pollution, in the coming years China will substantially invest in soil remediation. IVM has been invited to organize soil remediation projects in the province Shanxi in China.

In July, IVM’s director Prof. de Boer visited the city of Xinzhou in China. Xinzhou is a city of 3.1 million inhabitants situated in the province Shanxi, in northern China, just south of Inner-Mongolia.  It is surrounded by agricultural land with crops of wheat, maize, potatoes and others. Being selected as one of 1000 foreign scientists to assist China in scientific research in various disciplines (1000-talent plan), he received the Foreign Expert Certificate. As a foreign expert for China during the coming five years he will have priority access to research projects on environmental issue in China, such as on air, water and soil pollution. The Chinese government is facilitating that with e.g. seed money for research and a permanent visa.

IVM has now started to work with the Shanxi Dingxian Shenyu Science and Technology Company on project proposals for remediation of soil. Due to heavy mining activities in Shanxi, and to heavily contaminated rivers, large agricultural areas have been contaminated with metals, lindane, toxaphene and DDT. Phyto-remediation offers possibilities to clean this land from metals and lindane. For DDT and toxaphene, possibilities for phyto-remediation are limited, and other techniques may be necessary to apply. In a pilot project, IVM will work together with Bioclear (Groningen), who have experience in these techniques. If successful, the technique used may be applied in more areas in Shanxi and even further in China.

A laboratory needs to be built and installed for which IVM will give advice and training. Possibly, local students from Xinzhou University will be involved in the project as part of their study.

CenB smallDuring his first visit to the Shanxi region, Prof. de Boer met several authorities to discuss the new remediation plans. At the photo (Xinzhou Daily, 19 July), he meets the secretary of the communist party of Xinzhou, Mr. Dong Hongjun. Mr. Hongjun especially welcomed the ideas for the remediation project because of the perspectives of a better food safety and because of the level of technology that would be helpful in the education of local people and students. He also visited the Dutch embassy in Beijing. The embassy was happy to see the new activities and suggested collaboration with RIVM in other areas in China.

In addition to the new projects, collaboration with the Xinzhou University in the field of environmental chemistry and toxicology was also discussed.

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Contact: Prof. Jacob de Boer