China faces third case of mass lead poisoning
August 31, 2009
According to the Associated Press, two hundred children are suffering from lead poisoning in southwest China, the country''s third such case of mass sickening in the past month. Parents in Tongdu, a township in Yunnan province''s capital of Kunming, blamed the poisoning on a nearby industrial park while local environmental officials attributed it to vehicle exhaust, the China Daily reported. Earlier this month, more than 1,300 children in central Hunan province and at least 615 children in northern Shaanxi province tested positive for lead poisoning, which can damage the nervous and reproductive systems and cause high blood pressure and memory loss. Those cases have been linked to metal processing plants near their homes and schools. Both plants have been shut down. Anger is growing in China over public safety scandals in which children have been the main victims. The ruling Communist party is worried that mass protests will threaten the country''s social stability and challenge its grip on power. Mining is one of the biggest industries in Yunnan, a mountainous region that is home to many of China''s ethnic minorities and has large deposits of zinc, lead, tin and other metals, according to the provincial government''s Web site. China''s economic growth has caused serious environmental problems. For decades, many companies dumped poisons into rivers and the ground, counting on the acquiescence of local governments unwilling to damage their economic lifelines.