21 people held after 4 toxic glue workers die

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Twenty-one people have been detained in connection with a toxic glue suspected of killing four people, police in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, said yesterday.

2月17日晚,广州市第十二人民医院。躺在病床上两个多月的吴兵兵仍然不能自己解开衣服扣。记者 孙振飞 摄

A worker sickened by toxic glue is unable to dress himself after two months in hospital.

Those detained are suspected of producing or storing the glue that was found to contain poisonous chemical dichloroethane.

Between September and last week, 38 people are believed to have been poisoned by the substance - including four fatalities, said the safety supervision authority of Guangzhou.

They are believed to have inhaled the toxic chemical.

Of those affected, 28 are still in hospital under observation. They are said to be in a stable condition.

The situation has been under control since January 30, the authorities said.

The victims were employees of companies from the Baiyun and Liwan districts of the city, in which 36 were unlicensed workshops, authorities said.

The toxic glue was mostly used in the production of cheap bags and suitcases.

According to national standards, glues should contain no more than 0.5 percent of dichloroethane, which is used as a solvent.

One ton of dichloroethane costs about 3,700 yuan (US$587) while a ton of non-toxic environmentally friendly solvent is 9,500 yuan.

Due to its lower cost, dichloroethane has become increasingly popular among small bag manufacturers.

Nine out of 10 small producers of bags use it, according to an earlier investigation by a Guangzhou newspaper.

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