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Number of Lead-poisoned Villagers Rises to 368 in NW China
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The number of lead-poisoned villagers in northwest China's Gansu Province has risen to 368, local officials confirmed yesterday afternoon.


The victims are all residents of the villages of Xinsi and Muba.


The lead content in the blood of four of the poisoned children was three and half times higher than the normal level. A total of 149 children have been hospitalized with lead poisoning.


Three of the adult patients showed levels three times higher than the normal level.


The villagers were sickened by discharge from a nearby lead smelting plant that released water and air pollution.


The State Environmental Protection Administration has dispatched a five-member team of investigators. Meanwhile, the local government has ordered the smelter to relocate.


Excessive amounts of lead in the body can harm the nervous and reproductive systems, damage the brain and kidneys, and cause high blood pressure and anemia.


(Xinhua News Agency September 9, 2006)

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