Heavy metals in Taiwanese food/water/drinks?

I was reading an article about Minamata Disease, which was caused by mercury effluent from industry going into seawater, then ending up in the food chain.

As Taiwan has fairly advanced domestic industries, it is not inconceivable that industrial effluent may contain toxic metals.

Is there a body in Taiwan that checks water, agricultural areas, seafood, fish, vegetables and other products for heavy metal content? How vigilant are they in doing their job?

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I have a friend working at a wastewater monitoring company.

The laws are in place and there is a system for big industries to get permits for waste water, which need to be real-time monitored and need to be set-up by EPA-approved companies and machines, there was the whole industry 4.0 movement/investment to make these data be accessible from the internet in real-time by EPA.

But again, I’m not sure how much of the established permits have been revised or revoked because of failure to do this, also I’m unaware of the regulations themselves, but you can read about it here:

Also I’m afraid of how much waste-water pollution comes from small businesses that just dump anything into the rain-water drains. But again I don’t know amounts and I don’t think anybody does with certainty.


Well there are legal factories polluting the air and water and land with some of the most hazardous chemicals used in manufacturing, little and infrequent enforcement, 65,000 illegal factories in Taiwan dumping whatever they want wherever they want, substandard water Delivery Systems before it actually reaches your tap, necessity to filter water before drinking, etc.

There are bodies that manage that.

Enforcement is a whole other dark side.


Are the extremely high levels of life expectancy in Taiwan fueled by magic then?

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The abnormally high rates of colon and other cancers, including in younger people, are not caused by magic.



What is defined as a ‘normal level’?

Chinese medicine has been linked to liver cancer.

Exploring the Correlation between Oral Cancer and Heavy Metal Pollution

Epidemiological study of oropharyngeal cancer- Distinct features in Changhua

Association between Urinary Thiodiglycolic Acid and Non-invasive Liver Index in Residents of Dacheng Township north of No.6 naphtha cracking Complex

Assessment of the health risks of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and copper exposure through rice consumption: using rice samples from Taoyuan, Changhua, and Taichung as examples

The Investigation of Screening Methods for Agricultural Land with High Potential of Heavy Metal Pollution in Taiwan

Integrated Phytoremediation to Comply Regulatory Heavy Metals Standards

I think this is well known and the request for a source seemed unnecessary - I’m sure anyone with Google would be able to find dozens, if not hundreds, more papers confirming the heavy metal pollution problem in Taiwan and the higher incidence of certain types of cancers. “Normal level” obviously means compared with the global average, or the average for developed countries.

This one isn’t about heavy metals though (it’s talking about plastic precursors from a hydrocarbon cracking facility and their ability to cause liver damage):

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It is an issue, and the government studies it a lot!

One thing people often assume is it is from leaky shit head factory style corruption. Which is a huge cause of pollution here for sure. However Taiwan actually has fairly high levels of various heavy metals naturally. it is an issue down hill from old mines, for example, according to the folks we discussed with.

Heavy metal detox/cleanse is definitely already a fashionable trend now amongst the health groups :slight_smile:

If you are worried, SGS and similar companies can test things for you.

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Cheap decent health care. Fueled by money. A commonly used erroneous excuse when using age to disregard pollution in Taiwan.

Also, as with smoking, prove THAT factory gave your family cancer or organ failure. nearly impossible, regardless of knowing about the massive pollution issue.

It’s now Saturday night. I got no interest to find sources.

Often, poisoning by heavy metals is does not kill immediately.

For example, childhood exposure to lead would result in a hit to intelligence for the rest of the person’s life.

Other metals are carcinogenic; if a person dies from cancer due to cancer that was in fact caused by the heavy metals, the cause of death will almost certainly be attributed to cancer and not the heavy metal.

Methylmercury poisoning at very low doses can still impact neurological function without necessarily killing the person outright. Because it is a cumulative poison, as we age we accumulate more of it and more damage by it. Many of the symptoms may be confused with old age decline.

Real time monitoring of all possible heavy metals and their compounds is challenging. Can you friend confirm this is done in Taiwan both for lead and mercury compounds, and also random sampling of food and water?

I ate some Costco hot dogs and pizza and I started wanting to listen to Black Sabbath, Trivium, Metallica, Children of Bodom, Arch Enemy.

Must be the heavy metal in the food?

Some screenshots from some random papers I have.

Tsun-Kuo Chang, Guey-Shin Shyu, Yu-Pin Lin and Nan-Chang Chang

Moreso note where than the levels


Uptake of Heavy Metals by plants in Taiwan

Heavy Metal Concentrations in the Common Benthic Fishes Caught from the Coastal Waters of Eastern Taiwan

Heavy Metal Content of Rice and Shellfish in Taiwan

Major reported neurotoxicity of heavy metal poisoning in Taiwan (note, the reported ones mainly from work. not long term exposures to food and environment)

Levels of heavy metal cadmium in rice (Oryza sativa L.) produced in Taiwan and probabilistic risk assessment for the Taiwanese population

“Waste and wastewater generated by industry, along with smoke and falling
particles will cause various extents of heavy metal pollution. These metals are arsenic,
cadmium, chromium, mercury, nickel, lead, magnesium and copper. Contaminated
soil would have a number of microorganisms and nitrogen extent lower than normal
soil. Different plants need different heavy metals for survival, however heavy metal
overdose would toxify the plants and cause bioaccumulation inside of the plant.
Consumption through the food chain would be detrimental to human health.
Agricultural pollution mainly happens at contaminated crop plants. It is basically
rice grain containing cadmium and mercury, which is exceeding safety standards. In
2001, near the Lunding land, Chaojhou Township, Pingtung County, there was an
event of high copper content in the soil, indicating heavy metal pollution that is serious
enough to deserve attention from public.”

Occurrences of Green Oyster and Heavy
Metals Contaminant Levels in the Sien-
San Area, Taiwan
“Copper concentrations in the sediments and oyster
reached as much as 200 and 5000 ppm, respectively. The
green oyster phenomenon occurred as a result of these
rapid increases of metal concentrations. In addition, the
accordant rapid increase of copper concentrations in the
sediment and oyster within a short period of only 4 yr
demonstrates that the Sien-San coastal area is under the
drastic stress of copper pollution. This pollution prob-
lem represents a serious threat to the local ®shing

If you want to test, or just see the bare minimum of what companies are testing:

Distribution of heavy metals in the sediments of agricultural fields adjacent to urban areas in Central Taiwan
“In 2002, the Environmental Protection Administration of Taiwan began a detailed survey of heavy metals in soils, to determine the scope of the contaminated lands in the Changhua County’s agricultural fields. It was found that agricultural lands have been seriously polluted with Cr, Hg, Cu, Ni, and Zn, due to industrial wastewaters. This study, characterized the processes associated with heavy metal pollution by analyzing heavy metal contents in sediments within two periods, 2002 and 2010. This study employed geostatistical and multivariate statistics to obtain spatio-temporal variations of heavy metal pollution in paddy fields. The results indicate that, changes in industrial types have been altered the characteristics of pollutions, such as reducing the number of plants in industries (i.e., electroplating, surface treatments, metal works, chemicals, papermaking, etc.). Their wastewaters contained a large number of Ni, making the pollution composition of driven factors have been changed that can be indicated in this study. Pollution distribution and irrigation systems are positively correlated and concentrations of Cr, Cu, Ni, and Zn were inversely proportional to the scale of irrigation channels.”

And so on. The pollution in Taiwan is studied enough to say objectively we are terribly polluted. But the research is still rather lacking. Garaunteed it reaches far worse than what we currently know. But for the pollution denier, it’s already beyond bad enough to care :slight_smile: So no justifications are needed haha.

Enjoy your meal :money_mouth_face:


Thank you for the informative post, which I am reading now. I skimmed it at first, and at the end, I thought I read, “Enjoy your metal” :slight_smile:

I like a little black sabbath with every meal…

There are some good reasons why Taiwan is one of the cheaper places world-wide to get reasonable chrome plating done. waste disposal and the laws around it are lax.

Also anodizing, cost like 100nt to get an aluminum plate done. Per unit cost is much lower if you got a bunch.