Tainted tap water affects at least 10,000 people in S China town

16:14, August 04, 2010      

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At least 10,000 people in a south China town suffered a shortage of drinking water Wednesday after excessive manganese was detected in the tap water.

The city government of Lufeng in Guangdong Province said the manganese level in the tap water in Da'an town was 1.2 mg per liter since Monday, 12 times the maximum amount allowed in drinking water.

The cause of the contamination was still under investigation and environment specialists from Lufeng City were in town to conduct further analysis, said Huang Xianjia, a city government spokesman.

According to the safety standards for drinking water, jointly issued by the Ministry of Health and the Standardization Administration in 2007, the maximum manganese level allowed is 0.1 mg in every liter of drinking water.

The local government put up emergency notices on every busy street in town Tuesday, warning residents not to drink tap water until further notice.

"We're trying to remedy the situation and will keep you posted," reads a notice written on scarlet paper.

Huang said the contamination was "not serious." "Tap water still appears clear with no odor. It's safe for washing and bathing."

But a resident surnamed Wang showed reporters two pails of water he stored on Monday. Dark sediment was seen clearly on the bottom of the pails.

"It takes time for the mineral to settle and become visible," said Wang.

Wang and his neighbors have joined a rush for spring water in mountains near their homes. "Many families have bought new pails. Some carry water on motorbikes while others use shoulder poles," he said.

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