Environmental officials are testing the discharge from a
smelting factory, seeking the cause of lead poisoning that affected
scores of villagers in Qili Village of Fujian Province.
The Straits News, reported on Wednesday that 21 of 31
children tested in Qili, where the Meiheng Lead Smelting Co Ltd's
plant is based, were found to have too much lead in their
"We've never thought we were living in a dangerous environment
till an 11-year-old boy here was found to have medium-level lead
poisoning late last month," a local villager told the newspaper.
"We are just farmers and know little of these fatal chemicals.
Shouldn't anyone or any organization educate us beforehand, or test
the water, vegetables and grain we have? Most of the people tested
actually do have too much lead in their blood. We adults are the
secondary concern, but what about our children?"
The report of the test on the 11-year-old boy, given the alias
Chen Xiaoxiong, said that he had more than 290 milligrams of lead
per liter of blood. The normal human lead content is less than 100
The Qili Administrative Village, made up of 12 small villages,
has a population of more than 2,400. The most serious poisoning was
in Xiaqili, where villagers now dare not eat locally produced rice
and vegetables or drink water from the individually dug wells in
the village, Qili Party Secretary Luo Lianghuan said.
Many people have taken their children for check-ups. In Xiaqili
at least 200 people went for the checks, most of which found they
had excessive lead in their blood. Many are blaming the Meiheng
plant for the poisoning.
The Straits News said the plant produces mainly
electrolytic lead and aluminium, with an annual production value of
60 million yuan (US$7.5 million).
The Sanming City Environmental Inspection Station has ordered
the factory to stop using a polluting production method that the
State banned last week. The investigation of the plant is
"If the authorities conclude that our factory caused all the
poisoning cases, we will take full responsibilities," said Xiao
Xiangmei, chairman of the plant.
Excessive amounts of lead in the body harms the nervous and
reproductive systems and can cause high blood pressure and anemia.
In severe cases, it can lead to convulsions, coma and even
(Xinhua News Agency October 20, 2006)