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A new study from the China National Environmental Monitoring Center examines the results of nearly 5,000 soil samples from vegetable plots across China. Roughly a quarter of the sampled areas were polluted.
The most common problem is high soil concentrations of heavy metals—such as cadmium, lead and zinc—which leach out from open mines and industrial sites and into surrounding farmland.
Plants grown in tainted soil can absorb heavy metals. People who ingest high levels of heavy metals over an extended time can develop organ damage and weakened bones, among other medical conditions.
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