Excessive lead levels found in over 200 children in east China

08:11, January 06, 2011      

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Medical tests showed more than 200 children in a town in east China's Anhui Province had dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.

The Anhui Provincial Children's Hospital had tested about 280 children from Gaohe Township in Huaining County for lead poisoning since late December, and most had been diagnosed with high blood lead levels, said Cheng Bangning, deputy director of the hospital's micro-elements testing laboratory.

As of Wednesday, 23 children suffering from moderate to severe lead poisoning, or having more than 250 microgrammes of lead per litre of blood, had been hospitalized, with the youngest aged nine months, Cheng said, adding that five more such children were waiting to be admitted.

Most of these children were living in the town's Xinshan Community, where two battery plants operated nearby.

Some parents of the sickened children said there was only a road separating the community and the plants, where lead processing occurred.

However, environmental protection authorities have ordered that no residential community should be built within a radius of 500 meters from a battery plant.

The local government has shut down the plants and has been sending the town's children to the provincial capital of Hefei City to test their blood lead levels.

"We can draw a clear conclusion that the lead poisoning was caused by the lead pollution of the battery plants," said Zhang Gong, director of the hospital's child healthcare department.

Excessive amounts of lead in the blood can cause damage to the digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems and also stomach aches, anemia and convulsions.

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