354 people, including 146 children, in northwest China's Gansu Province have been confirmed to be
suffering from lead poisoning, according to local officials. The
victims are villagers from Xinsi and Muba Villages in Huixian
The sick children have been hospitalized and the local
government is reportedly paying for their treatment. None of their
conditions is serious, local officials said. Hu Hongtao, head of
the county government's publicity department, disputed rumors that
more than 1,000 had been hospitalized.
The first patient was a five-year-old boy who was found to be
suffering from lead poisoning in a hospital in Xi'an when he was
undergoing treatment for a different medical emergency. His
symptoms included a loss of appetite, stomach pain and weight
Other children with similar symptoms were then sent for
checkups, which is when more cases were discovered.
Villagers suspect that discharge from a nearby lead smelting
plant is the cause of the poisoning. The plant reportedly caused
severe water and air pollution. Production at the plant has been
suspended, and water sources are being tested.
Excessive amounts of lead in the body harms the nervous and
reproductive systems and can cause high blood pressure and
(Xinhua News Agency September 7, 2006)