About 16.1 per cent of soil and 19.4 per cent of farmland in mainland China is polluted, according to an official government report released this week.
As the semi-official Xinhua news agency points out, Chinese people are accustomed to frequent severe smog which they are helpless against, and the latest statistics come as another big environmental blow.
Human industrial and agricultural activities are the main source of the pollution, the report said.
Scientists found that soil pollution has already affected people's lives, with in excessive residue in agricultural products and contaminating ground water through permeation.
A series of environmental pollution issues have occurred in recent years in China. Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities are often shrouded with heavy smog (See: China worried as smog virtually shuts down major city).
Some villages are known as cancer villages, as the incidence of cancer is extremely high in those places due to environmental pollution. Earlier last week, benzene was found in tap water in Lanzhou, capital city of northwestern Gansu Province, affecting 2.4 million citizens.
Compared with air and water pollution, soil pollution is more difficult to control and remedy, taking a much longer time and needing more resources.
There has been more attention on environmental protection in China in recent years, with official admission that the country should sacrifice some economic development to repair the environment.
In February, the country put together a fund for tackling air pollution in heavily affected cities, with Rmb10 billion ($1.6 billion) allocation to help industry comply with new environmental standards (China announces yuan 10 bn fund to tackle air pollution).
At the annual session of the National People's Congress in March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang declared ''war'' against pollution and pledged to fight it with the same determination that the country battled poverty.
Environmentalists in India warn, such report shoulds serve as a wake-up call for Indian planners, who continue to follow a 'development' model that condones unbridled environmental mayhem. It is likely to be many years before the Indian government comes out with a similar 'white paper' on environmental degradation, they aver.