China / Society

35 workers poisoned in Dongguan

By Zheng Caixiong ( Updated: 2012-09-25 19:41

Thirty-five workers have been diagnosed with occupational N-hexane poisoning in the Pearl River Delta city of Dongguan, Guangdong province.

All the victims come from the same electronic company in Huangjiang township of Dongguan, a major production base in the South China province that borders the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, according to Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily.

Of the 35, nine who suffered from poisoning were taken to Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Occupational Diseases in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, where better medical treatment is available. Twenty-six other victims were taken to the local Huangjiang Hospital.

One who suffered from light poisoning has been released from Huangjiang Hospital and has quit the company.

Li Huiqin, one of the victims being treated in Guangzhou, said those who were seriously ill could not walk and had to rely on wheelchairs.

"All the victims who were sent to Guangzhou for treatment could not look after themselves," the 33-year-old told media on Tuesday.

Li said she felt sick in August and was sent to a local hospital on Sept 5 when her symptoms got worse.

Chen Jiabin, a doctor from Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Occupational Diseases, said all the victims had been diagnosed with N-hexane poisoning after they were sent to his hospital last week.

"Their symptoms included headaches, feeling weak overall, and incontinence," Chen said.

Chen promised to do what they can to help treat the workers.

He Faying, another worker, said all the victims worked in the same workshop that requires workers to use a chemical cleaning agent to clean the screens of mobile phones.

"And we could smell the terrible odor while working," He said.

The workshops where workers were diagnosed with N-hexane poisoning were closed for further investigation last week, she said.

Statistics from the Guangdong provincial Bureau of Health revealed the number of occupational disease patients has been on the rise since 2003. The province is home to more than 31 million migrant workers from around the country.

In addition to electronic companies, many employees from leather, shoe, bag and furniture factories have also been reported with occupational diseases in recent years.

Liang Xingxia, director of the Guangzhou Bureau of Work Safety, said more than 200,000 workers are at a high risk of contracting an occupational disease in Guangzhou.

More than 100 occupational-disease outbreaks have been reported in Guangzhou in the first six months alone, Liang said.

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