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More Than 950 Children In Northwest China Suffer Lead Poisoning

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 September 2006, showing a high content of lead. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 09, 2006
More than 950 children in northwest China were stricken with lead poisoning by an unregulated smelting plant which was shut down and then re-opened, state press said Monday. Hui County Non-Ferrous Metal Smelting Plant in Gansu province, which had substandard pollution control equipment, was found to be the source of the lead poisoning, earlier reports said.

However, it continued to operate this summer despite being ordered to cease production earlier this year, Xinhua news agency reported.

Along with 334 children who were diagnosed to have excessive amount of lead in their blood, the latest round of tests found another 620 children to be lead poisoned, it said, without giving the age of the children.

The number may rise as more blood samples were yet to be tested, it said.

The plant has spewed black smoke since it opened, with ash and grit covering crops surrounding two villages, earlier reports said.

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

Lead poisoning harms the nervous and reproductive systems and can lead to severe mental retardation in children.

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

Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up
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Canadin Prime Minister Says New Clean Air Act Coming
Ottawa (AFP) Oct 10, 2006
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday his government would unveil a tough law next week to curb air pollution and greenhouse gases that cause global warming, but only in the long term. "Canada's clean air act will allow us to move industry from voluntary compliance to strict regulation. It will replace the current ad hoc patchwork system with clear, consistent and comprehensive national standards," Harper told reporters.

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