Why is the US Importing China’s Toxic Waste?

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It shouldn’t be surprising that a nation as populous as China would use large amounts of fertilizer to grow crops. Lots of food to grow.

It also probably shouldn’t be surprising that Chinese companies produce an abundance of industrial waste while manufacturing the phosphate fertilizer used on Chinese farms.

And, of course, no one should be surprised to learn that this industrial waste – a noxious potpourri of toxic chemicals and heavy metals known as fluorosilicic acid – is treated as a pollutant unfit for disposal in natural water ways, and certainly unfit for human consumption.

It should, however, be very surprising – if not horrifying – to know that tons of this pollutant are shipped out of China and into the United States every year for a healthy Chinese profit.

Why, you may ask, would the US purchase toxic industrial waste from Chinese fertilizer manufacturers? Too put it in our drinking water, of course!

What a triumph of efficiency! Not only are we helping prevent the pollution and degradation of our natural environment, but we get ourselves some fancy sets of shiny, white, decay-resistant chompers on top of it!

It’s really nothing to joke about. The fluorosilicic (also hexa- or hydrofluorosilicic) acid produced in these industrial processes is not approved or regulated as a food or drug. In fact, independent studies have shown wide varieties of non-fluorine substances in various samples of the product. Researchers commonly find toxic substances like arsenic, lead, tungsten – even uranium in the same fluorosilicic acid compound that is being added to the majority of Americans’ water supplies.

To be clear, this isn’t intended to criticize the import of Chinese waste products when we have perfectly good fertilizer production right here in the US (incidentally, most of the fluorosilicic acid used for water fluoridation came from US sources until recently, as Chinese companies have been able to offer lower prices).

It is meant more as a question like: What the hell are we doing – and are we sure there’s not a better way?

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