Guangdong children suffer lead poisoning

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2011, 12:00am


Another case of excessive lead pollution has been uncovered on the mainland, this time in Guangdong, where a county government admits dozens of children are affected.

Forty-four children and at least one adult in villages close to a battery factory in Zijin county, under the administration of Heyuan city, were found to have excessive lead levels in their blood, with tests showing lead levels as high as 600 micrograms per litre, far in excess of the nation's 100mcg limit, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday. It quoted a press release the county government issued on Monday.

About 300 villagers underwent blood tests recently. The actual situation might be even worse, as more than 1,100 other villagers had been examined by Monday and many are still awaiting the results of their blood tests. County officials shut down the Sunnyway Battery Company's production on Sunday, accusing it of not having proper emissions control equipment or approval to produce dangerous goods.

It was the second lead pollution scandal uncovered on the mainland recently. Earlier this month, the central government took over an investigation into lead pollution involving one of the biggest battery factories, in Deqing county, Zhejiang. At least 99 children were found suffering from lead poisoning.

On Sunday, the Zijin county government released its first statement, saying only three of 199 villagers who had been tested were affected. But dozens of angry villagers doubted that result and rented a bus on Monday to take them to Guangzhou Children's Hospital for blood tests, according to the Nanfang Television Station.

The report said some children had blood lead levels of between 300 and 600mcg per litre.

'My children caught colds and had stomach pains frequently ... one of my daughters even developed a nose bleed suddenly,' a man who lives only 200 metres from the battery factory was quoted by the TV station as saying. He and all three of his children were found with lead poisoning. 'I'm very afraid that they'll have health problems in the future,' he said.

Residents complained yesterday that local governments had allowed the polluting factory to move into their rural community from Shenzhen five or six years ago. The firm has more than 1,200 workers and produces 10 million batteries annually.

'It's a big but severely polluting factory. That's why it was forced to leave Shenzhen,' a resident said. 'But our government let it run for years and made our children sick.'

The incident in Zhejiang involved a dozen villagers living nearby. The children involved lived in the nearby village of Mengxi.

In mid-March, almost 170 people were found with blood poisoning in Taizhou, also in Zhejiang, which was linked to pollution from battery factories, the People's Daily reported.