A Chinese environmental official said on Friday that several government departments are working on creating legislation to manage pollution caused by heavy metals.
Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Li Ganjie said at a press conference that the State Council, or China's cabinet, recently approved a plan for the treatment and reduction of heavy metal pollution for the 2011-2015 period.
Heavy metal pollution is a serious concern in China, with nine cases of lead poisoning occurring last year, Li said.
Li added that seven cases of lead poisoning already occurred between January and May of this year.
"Heavy metal pollution is a serious threat to health and social stability," he said.
Li said that according to his ministry's recently issued circular on the management of lead storage batteries and the secondary lead industry, severe measures will be imposed on industries where heavy metals are frequently used in order to prevent heavy metal pollution.
Regions where lead poisoning cases have occurred will be forbidden from starting new construction projects, according to the circular.
Companies that are known to have violated environmental laws will be required to halt production, and leading officials in polluted regions will have to take responsibility for these companies, the circular said.