by VR Sreeraman on  March 24, 2010 at 1:02 PM Environmental Health
 Chinese Province Hit By New Lead Poisoning Scare
Nearly 200 people have been diagnosed with excessive lead levels in their blood in an area of China which suffered a similar health scare last year, state media reported Wednesday.

Local authorities said 45 children and 152 adults were diagnosed with lead poisoning in the central province of Hunan, andaiwan prison cell more cases were expected to emerge as other people were tested, the China Daily said.

The victims were all from Guiyang county, which is adjacent to another county where more than 250 children were found to have excessive levels of lead in their blood in September, the report said.

Four officials have been sacked for negligence of duty over last year's incident in Jiahe county.

The lead scare has been blamed on polluting factories, and authorities said this week they would launch a three-month crackdown on dirty industries in the region.

It is the latest in a series of lead poisoning incidents across China that has highlighted the human cost of pollution in a nation that has so far prioritised economic growth over environmental protection.

Earlier this month, authorities in the southwestern province of Sichuan closed a factory after nearly 100 people, most of them children, tested positive for lead poisoning.

And last year, authorities in central Henan province said they would relocate 15,000 people away from smelting plants in one area after nearly 1,000 children tested positive for lead poisoning.

Excessive levels of lead are considered hazardous, particularly to children, who can experience stunted growth and even mental retardation.

Source: AFP

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