BEIJING — Faced with growing public anger about a poisonous environment, China's government released a years-long study that shows nearly one-fifth of the country's farmland is contaminated with toxic metals.
The report, previously deemed so sensitive it was classified as a state secret, names the heavy metals cadmium, nickel and arsenic as the top contaminants.
It adds to widespread doubts about the safety of China's farm produce and confirms suspicions about the dire state of its soil after more than two decades of explosive industrial growth, the overuse of farm chemicals and minimal environmental protection.
It also points to health risks that, in the case of heavy metals, can take decades to emerge after the first exposure. Already, health advocates have identified several "cancer villages" in China near factories suspected of polluting the environment where they say cancer rates are above the national average.
The soil survey was conducted from 2005 until last year, and showed contamination in 16.1 percent of China's soil overall and 19.4 percent of its arable land, according to a summary released late Thursday by China's Environmental Protection Ministry and its Land and Resources Ministry.