About 2,000 villagers in a county of northwest China's Gansu Province will take tests to determine
their blood lead levels after a local smelter polluted their
Most of the people with excessive lead in their blood come from
Xinsi and Mouba villages near Shuiyang Town, but the group of 2,000
also includes children and adults from Liugou Village in Shuiyang
and Xiannong Village in Chengguan Town, said Hu Xuejun, director of
the Huixian Health Bureau on Wednesday.
Those who took blood lead tests since mid-August in Xijing
Hospital in neighboring Shaanxi Province or in other hospitals are
excluded, said Hu.
The county government has purchased a blood lead level analyzer
for this mass test, which began on Tuesday when 25 people were
examined, Hu added.
The mass test will take about 20 days, with 100 people being
tested per day, according to Hu.
The Huixian County Non-Ferrous Metal Smelting Co. Ltd, was
identified as the source of the lead pollution by provincial and
state environment authorities. It has been shut down and major
items of equipment destroyed.
Investigators said the smelter obtained operating approval 10
years ago but for years had been discharging huge quantities of
fumes containing lead particles.
"The local government and environmental department must be held
responsible for this long-term pollution," said Pan Yue, deputy
director of the State Environmental Protection Administration.
The incident, caused by the negligence and malpractice of both
the local government and the environmental department, had done
grave harm to the health of the residents, he said.
According to the provincial government, by last Wednesday 258
people had been hospitalized due to excessive amounts of lead in
their blood, including 250 children. No more people have been
hospitalized since, it said.
The 250 children, all under the age of 14, are being treated at
both the Xijing Hospital and at a local county hospital.
Most of the patients are now in a stable condition after being
treated with vitamin supplements, according to hospital
(Xinhua News Agency September 21, 2006)