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Waste and Emissions»Chinese Children Suffer Lead Poisoning

»Friday, August 14,2009

As many as 800 Children could be suffering from lead poisingChina's latest public health scare dates back to March when a six-year-old girl, Miao Fan, was diagnosed with lead-poisoning gastritis.

Fears among parents became more widespread in July this year when a second villager took two children to the local hospital complaining they were listless and sick.

"My son is short and thin, looks like a 4-year-old boy. He weighs less than 25kg. I just wanted to check if he lacked anything." the mother, Xue Yani said, describing her eight year old.

Blood tests revealed levels of lead in the boy's blood stream more than twice the permissible levels of 100mg per litre.

As panic spread through the village of Maodaokou more than 300 further tests were carried out, almost all showing dangerous levels of lead.

There are thousands of protests a year against polluting industries in China. Lax environment controls often prevailed in the headlong rush for economic growth.

Environmental campaigners say part of the problem is that provincial officials are promoted on the basis of economic performance and are only rarely demoted or penalised in their careers for failing to protect the environment.

Health officials on Saturday announced they would test a further 865 children from villages surrounding the industrial park where the Shaanxi Dongling Lead and Zinc Smelting Factory is located. The results will be published later this week.

Last week the company was forced to halt manufacturing at the plant after angry villagers gathered outside the gates to the factory demanding compensation.

The local government has promised free treatment to all those affected while health officials announced a full investigation into the claims which have been given prominence in China's state media. Factory managers were unavailable for comment.
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