Probe into Children's Exposure to Lead

A nationwide investigation into children's exposure to lead started Saturday in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province.

The investigation, which due to begin soon in seven other provinces and cover 8 million to 10 million children, is aimed at finding out how the increasingly serious lead pollution affected China's children, in order to prepare for early treatment.

Wu Ying, dean with Shenyang Health Center for Women and Children, said that all the pregnant women and children under 7 years-old in the urban and suburban areas of Shenyang will receive medical examination as well as training programs to protect themselves from lead pollution.

With the development of urban transportation and chemical industries, children face more exposure to lead pollution, said experts. Besides automobiles, preserved eggs, pencils, and paint could also be sources of lead pollution to children.

Higher than the normal amount of lead in the human body does harm to the central nerves, causing mental retardation.

Children are more vulnerable to lead pollution and lead in their bodies can affect their nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems, said the experts.

The acceptable level of lead is 100 micrograms per liter. An earlier survey of 10,000 children in the city of Taiyuan, capital of north China's Shanxi Province, showed that 64 percent of them carry lead in their bodies that is much higher than the acceptable level.

The problem was especially acute among children living in the urban areas as well as in areas with a big flow of traffic.

The experts called on the public and governments at various levels to pay more attention to lead pollution, which is becoming more serious as the economy grows.

(Xinhua 01/06/2001)

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