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Use of plastic mulch may release toxins

06 Sep 2017. Plastic mulch, a cost-effective means to boost production used in more than 90 per cent of China’s tobacco fields, may release cancer causing toxins into the soil, Bloomberg News reported.

Toxins can be released by plastic residue from the non-biodegradable polypropylene film, the news agency said. The sheets are used on more than 12 per cent of China’s farmland, including 93 per cent of the country’s tobacco fields, Bloomberg said. The State Council has urged recycling of mulch films, which Bloomberg said often is not the case. A Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences researcher was cited in the report as saying the government plans to increase use of plastic mulch.

Concerns have been raised elsewhere, including by the US Department of Agriculture, that use of plastic mulch increases field runoff of rain and pesticides.