Third lead poisoning scare in China

State media reports new case of mass lead poisoning in south-western China.

    Years of emphasis on economic growth in China has come at a high cost to the environment [File: EPA]

    The results of an investigation by the local bureau of China's Ministry of Environmental Protection were expected this week, the paper said.

    Accusations
     
    But it also quoted local environmental officials as blaming the excessive lead levels on factors such as car exhaust emissions, and not pollution from the industrial park.

    However, parents of affected children in Tongdu insist the industrial park is to blame.

    The accusations come after two similar incidents occurred earlier in August - in northern Shaanxi and in central Hunan province - which resulted in more than 2,100 children testing positive for high lead levels.

    Local residents the blamed the poisonings on two smelting plants in the two areas.

    In the Shaanxi incident, residents stormed the plant, smashing trucks in protest, according to state media reports.

    Lead poisoning can damage the nervous and reproductive systems and cause high blood pressure, anaemia and memory loss.

    It is especially harmful to young children, pregnant women and foetuses, and the damage is usually irreversible, according to the World Health Organisation.

    Pollution-related health scares are common in China, where an emphasis on economic growth has lead to a widespread disregard for environmental protection.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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