Cultural Anthropology: Soil Pollution in Shanghai and West Bengal

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Soil is described as the thin layer of organic and inorganic material that cover the earth’s surface. Soil is therefore a very important resource. Soil necessitates human life on earth through agriculture as it determines the production of food. However, human activities have intentionally and unknowingly brought about pollution of soil. This has brought the urge for anthropological researches on soil in different locations which include collection of important quantitative and qualitative data. This can be carried out through the use of key informants as well as observation by the researchers. Application of anthropology mostly bases on two or more field studies as in the case of this paper.

The Indian culture as well as the Chinese cultures greatly contribute to the world’s economy through industrialization. Comparing the two cultures which are far apart, they are prone to common soil pollution problems[footnoteRef:1]. The research will focus on identification of the soil pollution agents, measures taken to mitigate the soil pollution, the parties involved in soil pollution and its mitigation, and lastly why the parties bring about soil pollution. A critical analysis will be focused on soil pollution on china’s biggest city located on the west coast in comparison to west Bengal a state in eastern India. Mitigation factors to the pollution will also be determined. [1: Kathleen, G. 'Native-view paradigms: Multiple cultures and culture conflicts in organizations.' Administrative science quarterly (1983): 362.

First of all, Shanghai is China’s biggest city and financial center located on the central coast of China. Due to industrialization and urbanization in china, lots of waste are produced by the industries and homesteads. Since lots of homestead and industrial waste has to be treated daily in Shanghai, a higher percentage of the waste product end up being buried in the soil. Since the garbage might be containing toxic pollutants, burying them brings about the seepage of the toxic pollutants into the soil. Furthermore, great soil pollution is incurred from the demolishing of industries in the process of creating spaced for developed industries.

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Soil pollution in Shanghai city is majorly brought about by industrial wastes from industries. Considering that soil is specifically not like air or water, toxic pollutants accumulate in the soil over time bringing about long time effects as opposed to water and air where it would disperse. The toxic pollutant effects of soil pollution might affect individuals which depend on the agricultural lands as their main source of food[footnoteRef:2]. According to China’s government, most of its arable land farmlands have been permanently polluted by industrial slug which contain a lot of heavy metals. Food products from these lands pose a dangerous health risk to individuals as heavy metal ingestion is the major source of cancer. [2: Gail, M. and Cody, W. 'The role of theory in qualitative research.' Nursing Science Quarterly 6, no. 4 (1993): 170-178. The main rice producing areas have been related to high levels of Cadmium a heavy metal and powerful carcinogenic component. Cadmium is associated with dangerous damages on the human kidney. Despite the fact that the rice produced is associated with cadmium, Shanghai still remains to be the consumers of the rice since it is produced on a large scale. High consumption of this rice has brought about health complication among citizens of china. It also increases death rates due to the hazardous effects of cancer, a result of heavy metal consumption.

Although the list of villages and provinces that are polluted increase, the government of China are working to reduce the risk of pollution. Environmental laws are being revised to ensure that a safer environment is provided to each citizen in shanghai city. Research projects are also being carried out keenly to produce transparent research reports to ensure that the tough effects of pollution are reduced greatly. Moreover, the government through its ministries has ensured that the public understands the importance of safe environment by creating awareness on the dangers of soil pollution. The research determines that despite the government’s effort to create awareness and revision of rules, other individuals and industries find it difficult to observe the rules. This complicates the effort to solve the soil pollution in Shanghai. Information about soil pollution sizes to reach other citizens making it even harder to control soil pollution at large. This is due to the fact that other individuals become ignorant to information gained or lack knowledge about the effects of soil pollution. Soil pollution effects ends up extending its effects to water sources. Notably, China’s campaign to clean the and that has been contaminated by industrial or agricultural waste will require a lot of monetary and technological investment. This will remove pollutant such as cadmium and organic compounds such as benzene.

While Shanghai is mostly affected by industrial and urbanization, West Bengal is mostly affected by Arsenic[footnoteRef:3]. The most affected region is the deltaic region which contains shallow waters that are associated with Arsenic which is mainly used for irrigation. Furthermore, the area is also prone to seasonal floods which brings the arsenic on the agricultural soils. Arsenic accumulation in the fields brings about pollution of the agricultural soils. [3: James S., and McCurdy, D. Conformity and conflict: Readings in cultural anthropology. Jill Potash, 2012.]

Although West Bengal is also associated with industrial pollution, ignorance from individuals bring about the greatest disaster of pollution. Health risks like cancer is associated with industrial wastes especially when ingested since crops uptake this waste while in the fields which is then directly taken by the consumers of the farm products. One of the techniques that can be used is thermal desorption that employs the use of heat to break contaminants therefore making them easy to remove from the soil. The Indian government has brought about measure to reduce the risks associated with arsenic accumulation in Indian. Among the methods to reduce the arsenic concentration, soil vapor that contains the arsenic is extracted from the soil, farming is also improvised by using special paper to grow food crops hence avoid crops from the areas associated with pollution.[footnoteRef:4] Through setting of strict rules, the Indian government ensures that all industrial effluents are well treated before being released to the environment. Arsenic contamination is mostly in water and has a profound effect on the quality of human life as it leads to adverse health conditions. The use of lime is frequently use at it allows heavy metals like lead to oxidize. This will make them hard to be absorbed by the plant roots. However, the soil should not be acidic and the heavy metal will break down and become soluble again. [4: Amy, P et al., Environmental science & technology 52, no. 14 (2018): 7929]

Moreover, the government conducts research projects to ensure that up to date solutions to the problems associated to the arsenic contamination are discovered and mitigated. Soil sample from different area are frequently tested to ensure that the levels of contaminants are maintained at less toxic level since high levels of contaminant associate with greater risks to human health in general. Having explored soil pollution in Shanghai and West Bengal, the factors that are taken to mitigate the damages caused might be taken into consideration differently depending on the level of understanding of the different citizens in the two cities. Mitigation action help in reducing or preventing the risk of life, property and economic activities. The mitigation processes include awareness, education, preparedness and establishing warning systems that help to reduce the destructive impacts of soil pollution. Despite increasing vulnerability of this disasters, most people still resist in adopting mitigation programs. Most of the barriers are either economic, social and political. The progress towards the adoption of the mitigation process will depend on people commitment and innovative solutions.

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