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121 children suffer lead poisoning in SE China
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A total of 121 children in a county in southeast China's Fujian Province have been found to have excessive lead in their blood, local government said Saturday.

Two medical institutions tested a total of 287 children aged under 14 in Shanghang County, Longyan City, on Sept. 15 and 20, according to the county government.

It stated that 120 had lead levels of higher than 100 micrograms in per liter of blood but lower than 200 micrograms per liter. One had 218.6 micrograms of lead in per liter of blood.

The government has closed Huaqiang Battery Plant, the suspected source of lead pollution, after earlier tests found excessive lead in some children's blood.

The authorities have launched investigation into the lead poisoning case and stepped up environmental protection around the battery plant.

The government said it is working to meet the reasonable demands of the victims.

Some students didn't go to school and vendors suspended businesses in the wake of the case. But after government persuasion, most students returned to classes and vendors resumed business.

Lin Xu, vice head of the county, said the government will cover the medical costs for lead poisoning treatment and test all children under 14 living within 600 meters of the battery plant.

The government will hire a non-local qualified environmental evaluation agency to conduct related evaluations, Lin added.

China has reported a spate of lead poisoning cases so far this year in provinces such as Shaanxi, Hunan and Yunnan. Some have even sparked angry protests.

(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2009)

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