Article courtesy of SCMP | March 5, 2015 | South China Morning Post | Shared as educational material
People in Lanzhou in China’s Gansu province emptied supermarket shelves of bottled water after a resident complained of a foul smell in tap water on Wednesday, Xinhua reports.
The city government tried to quell fears by telling the public that the water quality was still normal, but residents swept up bottled water in shops nevertheless.
The incident comes after pollutants, including benzene, ammonia and ethylene, leaked into the city’s tap water multiple times last year.
On April 11, the city warned residents not to drink water from their taps for 24 hours after benzene levels 10 times that of national permitted standards were found in local water supplies.
The chemical compound, which when consumed can increase the risk of cancer and other illnesses, was later traced to underground contamination from leaks at Lanzhou Petrochemical sites.
In January, the government ordered Lanzhou Petrochemical to apologise to the city’s 3.6 million residents for four serious air and water contamination incidents over the past few months.