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Lead Poisoning Hits 870 People In Northwestern China

A group of villagers and their children from Shui Yang county in China's northern Gansu province, show off their blood test results at a hospital in Xian, northern China's Shaanxi province 04 September 2006, showing a high content of lead. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 13, 2006
The number of people stricken with lead poisoning by an unregulated smelting plant in northwestern China has risen to 870, including over 300 children, state press said Tuesday. Some 179 of those found to have lead poisoning in remote and poverty-stricken Hui county have been hospitalized, with 171 of the victims under the age of 14, Xinhua news agency said.

Substandard pollution control equipment at the Hui County Non-Ferrous Metal Smelting Plant has been identified as the source of the lead poisoning, which can lead to severe mental retardation in children, earlier reports said.

The plant was shut last month.

Up to 1,400 people living in two villages near the plant have had their blood tested for excessive lead content, with many still awaiting test results, Xinhua said.

Since the scandal broke late last month, locals have repeatedly insisted that up to 2,000 people could have been poisoned by the plant that has operated for nearly 11 years.

The plant has spewed black smoke since it was opened, with ash and grit constantly covering crop lands surrounding the two villages, they said.

Environmental officials announced on Sunday that the plant's waste disposal system did not meet national standards and that the factory failed to undergo a mandated environmental assessment after an upgrade in 2004.

After 25 years of robust economic growth, the Chinese government has vowed to pay more attention to environmental protection as the nation's cities are some of the most polluted in the world.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Shanghai (AFP) Sep 12, 2006
China has arrested managers at two chemical plants blamed for polluting a major river with massive quantities of arsenic compounds, state media said Tuesday. China's top environmental watchdog identified Haoyuan Chemical, a sulfuric acid manufacturer, and Taolin Lead Zinc Ore Chemical, as the key perpetrators in yet another pollution case in China, the Xinhua news agency said.

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