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Toxic Air Pollutant Injures 90 Workers in Zhuhai
The Zhuhai Public Health Bureau has established a special task force to investigate the air toxicity accident that affected at least 90 workers on Monday morning in a local company of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province.

Of the victims, 20 were seriously affected and are still in hospital receiving treatment while the other 70 have been sent home, according to an official from the Zhuhai Municipal Bureau of Public Health.

The company has been ordered to stop production for investigation and elimination of the problem, the official said.

On Monday morning, an increasing number of workers from a local Japanese-funded company began to complain of headaches and breathing difficulties.

All the affected employees worked in a closed workshop of the company, which produces electric appliances. The company is one of the biggest taxpayers in the Zhuhai which borders Macao Special Administrative Region.

It was suspected that workers had inhaled some unidentified toxic substance, and they were immediately sent to Zhuhai Municipal People's hospital for emergency treatment.

By yesterday evening, 70 of the workers had returned home after treatment.

Officials have promised to find out the cause of the accident and punish any personnel found to be responsible.

An executive from the company said there had been no forewarning, and investigation of the case is still ongoing.

It is the second serious toxic air incident to have taken place in Guangdong Province since June.

Twelve workers from the Anjia Shoe Factory also suffered from inhaling toxic air in the city of Dongguan in the Pearl River Delta in June. Some of the victims of that incident are still on medication.

The Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Public Health recently decided to fine the Taiwan-funded shoe company 180,000 yuan (US$21,700) and insisted that the investor upgrade safety measures in the factory.

The bureau has also issued a notice asking for the tightening up of safety measures in the handling of toxic materials.

(China Daily September 19, 2002)

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