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Benzene-laden Paint Sickens over 400 Students
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The owner of a company making school furniture has been arrested after allegedly using benzene-laden paint which put more than 400 northeast China schoolchildren in hospital.

Investigators in Liaoning Province said the Panjin Yixian School Facility Factory owner attempted to cut costs by using paint for outdoor use on furniture supplied to the Shalingzhen School since April 24.

The fumes caused children at the school, which has both primary and secondary sections, to fall ill.

Ten children were reported to be still in hospital on Tuesday, all of them described as in "stable condition."

Tests by the Panjin Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision (PBQTS) showed that benzene concentration emitted from the desks and chairs made last October was 1.12 times higher than the recommended safe level.

Officials also examined unsold furniture in the factory and found the benzene concentration was 9.7 times higher than the safe level.

Earlier tests by the PBQTS indicated formaldehyde concentrations in the classrooms were double the legal limit of 0.1 milligrams per cubic meter.

But officials said the symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning -- sore throat, coughing and irritation of the eyes -- were different to the symptoms suffered by the schoolchildren.

The children complained of nausea, headaches, dizziness and weakness of the limbs.

The Panshan county government has ordered the primary section of the Shalingzhen School to suspend classes.

(Xinhua News Agency May 2, 2007)

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