A chemical plant in Hunan province was shut down on Saturday after it was accused of causing lead poisoning in more than 300 children, leading one official to contend that the problem may have resulted from the kids “biting pencils”
Global Times reports:
China Central Television (CCTV) reported Saturday that blood tests on more than 300 children in Dapu township, Hengdong county found excessive lead levels, a sign of heavy metal poisoning.
The lead density in the children’s blood all exceeded the national standard of 100 micrograms per liter for children, with some reaching as high as 501 micrograms per liter, which indicates severe poisoning, the report showed.
Local residents suspect that nearby chemical plant Meilun Chemical Materials Ltd, which discharged untreated particulates and waste water into the Xiangjiang River, is responsible for the pollution.
Lab tests using dust on the windowsill of a local villager’s house near the plant found that the particles contained 7,780 micrograms of lead per kilogram—21 times the standard amount allowed for residential land.
Local children who showed excessive amounts of lead displayed common symptoms of stomachache and stunted growth. Dense presence of lead in blood could cause high blood pressure, anemia, and in severe cases, could lead to coma and death, Xinhua said.
The Dapu government’s head, one quick-thinking Su Genlin, said that children may have exhibited excessive lead levels from “biting pencils”.