80 kids suffer lead poisoning in E China

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In yet another case of lead poisoning, more than 80 children in Shanghang county, East China's Fujian province have been found to have excessive amounts of the potentially lethal metal in their blood.

A battery factory being blamed for the poisoning was shut down one week ago.

"If the factory continues production, more of our children will be poisoned," said Fu Hesheng, who lives in Jiaoyang village only 300 m away from the factory.

"The factory is only 800 m away from the primary and middle schools where about 2,000 students study," Fu told China Daily.

He said the factory has emitted irritant gas and exhaust water containing lead.

Normal lead content in blood ranges from 0 to 100 mcg per liter. Human health is affected when the content reaches 200 mcg per liter.

"Most children have 100 to 200 micrograms of lead per liter of blood, but one child is poisoned with lead levels higher than 200 micrograms," said Fu Zhilian, a parent in Jiaoyang village.

Xinhua News agency reported only four children had excessive levels.

This is the fourth recent lead poisoning scandal in the country. More than 2,000 children have been affected in areas like Fengxiang, Shaanxi province, Wugang in Hunan province and Kunming of Yunnan province.

Excessive levels of lead in the body can harm the nervous and reproductive systems, cause high blood pressure and anemia and, in extreme cases, can lead to convulsions resulting in a coma or even death.

Villagers said students have stopped going to school since Monday because they fear further poisoning at school.

The case first came to light when student Fu Xiaohua began suffering from diarrhea and dizziness. He was taken to a hospital in the provincial capital of Funzhou for tests at the end of last month. The results showed the child had an excessive 144 micrograms of lead in his blood. Other villagers followed and 80 out of 100 residents tested found they had high levels of lead in their blood.

The Shanghang Huaqiang battery factory started operations in 2006 and its discharges have affected about 3,000 residents in three nearby villages: Jiaoyang, Tangxia and Chongtou.

Officials of the county government told China Daily the power supply for the factory's production will be cut off and its operations will not resume.

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