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More than 100 children are treated for lead poisoning
Liu Wei
3/28/2004

Since March 17, 161 people have been taken to the emergency room of Chaoyang hospital in Beijing, China. One hundred and fifty of them are elementary school pupils, 16 of whom were hospitalized.

These patients are all from Xinglong County of Chengde City, Hebei Province. According to the parents, the children generally suffer from headache and stomachache problems. Test results show that 63 people have increased blood lead levels. The suspected source of contamination is a nearby lead-zinc plant.

According to an angry parent, the work of this factory is to extract lead from minerals. Since it is a process which produces mass pollution, the parents highly suspect that the waste substances expelled from the factory have caused their children to contract lead poisoning. One parent surnamed Li said that the lead-zinc plant is only 200 meters away from the elementary school. The plant has intermittently emitted a sour odor. He said his son often complained about a stomachache, but he thought the child ate some bad food.

Qianlong.Net reported that on the morning of March 15, students and teachers at the Shaboyu Village Elementary School in Xinglong County smelled something very strong. Many students subsequently developed symptoms such as foaming at the mouth, headaches, stomachaches, chest pain and fainting. The smell was described to be “sour and pungent, similar to strong boiled herbal medicine.”

The students were taken to the nearby Zunhua Hospital. The school was closed for a day. The next morning, another eight students were sent to the hospital with headaches and stomachaches. The parents decided to take the children to a hospital in Beijing, since the Zunhua Hospital was unable to provide a definite diagnosis.

A nurse from the Chaoyang hospital also mentioned that they are facing some difficulty in receiving so many lead poisoning patients at one time.

At a joint press conference between the Chaoyang Hospital and the City of Chengde, the officials said that preliminary analysis show that children had been poisoned due to contact with lead. A doctor at the hospital said that the lead-zinc plant may have emitted lead powder into the air, and stagnant airflow could have exacerbated the concentration of pollution.

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