Monday 22 January 2018

200 Chinese children suffer lead poisoning

Malcolm Moore

More than 200 Chinese children have been poisoned by lead leaking from a battery factory, with 28 needing hospitalisation.

Mass testing of young children in the central Chinese town of Gaohe, Anhui province, began in December.

Lead poisoning, which tends to build up slowly as a result of repeated exposure, can damage the kidneys, nervous and reproductive systems and is especially harmful to children, causing brain damage and behavioural problems.

Huang Dazhai, the father of five-year-old Huang Han, who was among the first to be diagnosed with toxic levels of lead in his blood, told reporters from the China Daily newspaper that his son had been irritable and hyperactive.

"My wife called me on New Year's Eve, telling me to come home immediately and take the child to hospital," he said. Jiang Feng, another father, said his 14 month-old had been severely poisoned despite only moving to Gaohe a few months ago.

The local government blamed a battery plant just a few blocks from a densely-populated part of the town for the emergency, and said the factory had not passed its safety checks. The plant has now been closed, it added.

The case is only the latest in a string of heavy metal pollution incidents in China. In 2009, protesters destroyed a smelting works in north west China after blaming it for poisoning more than 600 children.

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