Medical tests have confirmed lead poisoning in at least 121 out of 287 children living near a battery factory in southeast China’s Shanghang county, Fujian province.
A statement released by local authorities on Sept. 26 said that the tests were performed in two local hospitals, and all the children tested are under 14 years. Their blood lead levels varied between 100 and 200 micro grams (µg) per liter of blood and one child had 218 µg/l. Normal lead content in blood ranges from zero to 100 µg/l.
It is estimated there could be more victims in the area, according to a report from fjnet.com.
The children all live near the local Huaqiang Battery Factory, which started operation in 2006. It's discharge have affected about 3,000 residents in three nearby villages.
In recent weeks, a further 2,100 children were tested positive of high lead levels in blood caused by local factory pollution in three other provinces in China.
High levels of lead in the blood can cause serious health problems. It damages the nervous and reproductive systems and also causes high blood pressure and memory loss. In extreme cases, it can lead to convulsions, causing coma or even death.
This latest wave of lead poisoning was uncovered because a local villager took his son to the provincial hospital for a test in June—excessive lead was found in his blood.
Another three children were tested, showing similar results. Local people became more concerned and took their children to be tested, also confirming excessive lead in the blood.
Watch NTDTV's report: "121 Children Suffer Lead Poisoning in Fujian Province, China"
Then parents began noticing that the test results from the local hospitals were recording lower blood lead levels than the hospitals outside the province. More villagers started to take their children outside the province to get tested, not trusting the local results.
Local police began preventing residents from going to other provinces for medical tests, according to the state run China Daily.
Hundreds of parents and Shanghang residents protested outside government offices on the morning of Sept. 17.
Authorities said they ordered the factory to shut down on Sept. 10, but claimed the factory did not comply.
Lead poisoning fears kept hundreds of pupils away from primary and middle schools when the semester began earlier this month. One kindergarten, just 800 meters from the factory, also reported a large number of absences.
Read the original Chinese article.