The number of children affected by lead poisoning blamed on a smelting plant in north China has risen to over 850, state media said Wednesday.
A total of 1,016 children in Shaanxi province's Changqing township were tested, and 851 were found to have excessive lead levels in their blood -- more than 170 of which were hospitalised, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
This represents a significant increase from the 615 children initially reported to be suffering from lead poisoning.
Villagers stormed the smelter Monday, smashing trucks in anger at the case. The plant has been ordered to close.
The lead levels in the blood of the children tested ranged from 100 milligrams to more than 500 milligrams per litre, compared with normal levels of between zero and 100 milligrams.
A reading of more than 200 milligrams is considered hazardous, with children more vulnerable to lead poisoning which can harm the nervous system.