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Wed Jun 28, 2017, 09:52 PM

The astounding cadmium intake associated with rice in Southern China.

Recently in this space, I reported on the development of an inexpensive test for cadmium contamination developed by Chinese scientists, noting that China has a very serious problem with the contamination of their rice crops with this dangerous heavy metal.

That post is here: Fast, accurate determination of cadmium contamination without expensive instrumentation.

I have been generally aware of the cadmium contamination of Chinese rice over the years because, in something of a gadfly role, I question the rote assumption that so called "renewable energy" is actually safe and sustainable - it is neither, nor is it in fact even "renewable" - and I believe that simply by saying the word "renewable" in connection with energy people tend to abandon critical thinking and in fact, stop giving a rat's ass about the consequences of wishful thinking, the kind of wishful thinking that kills people.

Uncritical belief in the cleanliness and sustainability of so called "renewable energy" is our creationism on the left.

(The planet in the last ten years squandered over a trillion dollars on solar energy - a fig leaf for the gas industry without which solar energy would be even more useless than it is - with the result that the degradation of the planetary atmosphere accelerated to unprecedented levels. The solar industry has not worked, is not working and will not work to prevent climate change or to save the lives of even a minute fraction of the seven million people who die each year from air pollution.)


Having stumbled on that paper in my regular reading, I decided to update my understanding of the cadmium situation in China by picking up some references in the paper I discussed in the original post, and I came across a paper today that was truly astounding.

The new paper is here: Assessment of dietary cadmium exposure: A cross-sectional study in rural areas of south China (Yang et al, Food Control Volume 62, April 2016, Pages 284-290)

The abstract and "highlights" available in the link are obvious even if one cannot access the paper directly: The Chinese in the most contaminated areas are accumulating 340 mg of cadmium over their lifetime. For reference this is 38% of the LD50 dose, an LD 50 dose being the dose at which half of the test animals experiencing this level will die immediately. The chronic effects of cadmium exposure include not only death, but debilitating organ failure.

In the text of the paper the authors note that some of the levels of cadmium exposure exceed contamination levels in those regions of Japan where cadmium exposure lead to the outbreak of "Itai-Itai" ("Pain-Pain" disease characterized by severe osteoporosis and renal failure and increase mortality. The "Itai-Itai" victims experienced contamination levels averaging 0.59 ug/g in their rice; the Chinese in the surveyed regions in this paper are eating rice with 0.64 ug/g.

The analytical method employed for measurement was state of the art, an Agilent 7700 ICP/MS utilizing microwave nitric acid digestion.

An estimate of the number of people likely to experience severe health consequences has been made in another paper, this one:
Applying Cadmium Relative Bioavailability to Assess Dietary Intake from Rice to Predict Cadmium Urinary Excretion in Nonsmokers (Li et al, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2017, 51 (12), pp 67566764)

I quote:

"Urinary Cd has been associated with increased diabetes, hypertension, and even cardiovascular disease mortality.4,5 The incidence of osteoporosis at 2.4% associated with chronic Cd exposure from a smelting-impacted area in southeast China has-been correlated with urinary Cd < 2.0 μg g−1 creatinine.41 Considering the high predicted urinary Cd concentration of 4.77 μg g−1 creatinine in Hunan province with 67 million population, ∼1.6 million population may be at risk of osteoporosis due to rice consumption based on the low incidence of 2.4%. These findings suggest that ingestion of rice can be a health risk for populations in China, especially in southern China. Increased attention should be paid on food safety where both Cd concentration and Cd−RBA are important. Furthermore, strategy should be developed to modulate dietary Cd exposure via decreasing Cd−RBA in rice."

RBA = Relative bioavailability.

Over the years, I've had the misfortune to listen to people claim - in complete ignorance - that so called "renewable energy" is safer than nuclear energy. This is nonsensical and is based entirely on selective attention. I recently had to listen the unpleasant and frankly insipid announcement that the collapse of a tunnel at the Hanford nuclear reservation - a weapons plant - "proved" that nuclear power was unsafe. The tunnel collapse killed or injured no one and yet it was international news.

One hears a lot about Fukushima radiation, even though the death toll thus far is zero from radiation; in the same event thousands of people were killed by, um, seawater. Yet rising seas are ignored, radiation scare mongering is an international pass time.

One never hears, by contrast, about the trichloromethylsilane explosion at a Mitsubishi plant, also in Japan, trichloromethylsilane being an intermediate for some types of solar cells. The explosion killed 5 people immediately, and severely injured 15 people. The trichlorosilane explosion was not international news. Nobody gave a rat's ass about it, just like no one gives a rat's ass about the thousands of fatal natural gas explosions over the years; natural gas being the fuel without which the entire so called "renewable energy" scam would collapse in a New York minute.

Risk inasmuch as it involves threat to human life is described by WHO as being measured in DALY, "Disability Adjusted Lost Years." In this sort of calculation, a person killed instantly counts more than a person who might develop cancer from exposure in thirty years.

But don't kid yourself; the thirty year exposure limit is not zero for the solar scam. Cadmium is a carcinogen as well as a systematic poison. It has no half life. It never goes away.

The solar industry is trivial; the nuclear industry is not. One wonders, should the solar industry soak up so many more tens of trillions of dollars useless to even approach 1/5 of what nuclear energy has produced year after year after year for nearly half a century using technology developed in the 1960's, what the "solar" death toll might be.

It will not be small:

The cadmium situation in China suggests that the death toll for this still trivial form of energy is already higher than all the deaths associated with Fukushima, Chernobyl, yada, yada, so on and so on. These deaths will not be erased because currently no one - other than scientists in China - gives a shit about them.

The unacceptable death toll from the solar industry - should anyone ever pay attention to how "safe" this "green" scam is - is nonetheless still small when compared with the 70 million people who die each decade from air pollution while some us, wait like Estragon waiting for Godot, for the so called "renewable energy" industry to actually do something. It hasn't, it isn't, it won't.

The worst risk of "renewable energy" is that it is ineffective, and thus allows the killing to go on.

Nevertheless, to the extent we "distribute" cadmium telluride and cadmium selenide solar cells in this country, we will have the same hell to pay as the Chinese are paying now as they mine this stuff so we can be "green." The payment will come due during the lives of our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren, the people we screwed by doing nothing about the environment at all other than make glib predictions about how wonderful their energy sources will be since we expect them to do what we no idea how to do ourselves, live in some fantasy "renewable" nirvana.

Enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend.

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