Authorities in eastern China have detained 74 people and suspended work at hundreds of factories after a new lead poisoning scare once again bounced back amidst the country’s economic boom.
The announcement by the Zhejiang government on Monday follows a two-month investigation into battery, metal coating, smelting and dismantling operations in Taizhou City after 172 people, including 53 children, fell ill due to lead poisoning.
Officials have detained 74 people and cut power and water supplies to 652 factories and individuals, after Beijing in April ordered a crackdown on heavy metal pollution following numerous lead poisoning incidents, reports from Xinhua and AFP said.
During the investigation targeting lead acid battery and metal coating factories, local environmental protection authorities found 148 cases of environmental violations and levied fines of 8.22 million yuan (US$1.50 million).
They closed or suspended production at four battery factories, and suspended or shut down operations at several metal coating, or electroplating, facilities.
Excessive levels of lead in the blood are considered hazardous, particularly to children, who can experience stunted growth and mental retardation. There have been dozens of major poisoning incidents in recent years.
Exposure to lead causes a variety of health effects, and affects children in particular, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the organisation, even a blood level of 10 micrograms per decilitre can have harmful effects on children’s learning and behaviour.
In January this year, an incident of heavy metal pollution had made more than 200 children sick, Reuters had reported.
Christine Gaylican is Bureau Chief for OfficialWire in the Philippines. She writes on a variety of subjects and manages all media activities in Asia for OfficialWire. Christine can be contacted through this website.-by Christine Gaylican