954 children confirmed with excessive lead in blood
Updated: 2006-10-09 21:29

A total of 954 children have now been confirmed as having excessive lead in their blood in Northwest China's Gansu Province following the results of the latest round of mass tests, the provincial health bureau said Monday.

Local health authorities tested 1,789 blood samples over a period of 20 days in Huixian County and found that 620 more children had more than 100 milligrams of lead per liter of blood and 43 adults had over 400 milligrams of lead per liter of blood. The bureau did not release any figures on the number of adults whose levels stood between 100 and 400 milligrams of lead per liter of blood.

The number may rise further as more than 200 blood samples are yet to be tested.

The bureau said 334 more children were earlier diagnosed as having over 100 milligrams of lead per liter of blood at the Xi'an-based Xijing Hospital in the neighboring province of Shaanxi.

Some villagers told China Central Television (CCTV) last month that they did not believe in the testing of local hospitals and had to travel about 300 kilometers to the Xijing Hospital.

A doctor at the hospital was quoted earlier as saying that 877 people in Huixian county were found with over 100 milligrams of lead per liter of blood.

The patients, all from Xinsi and Mouba villages near Shuiyang Town, were victims of a lead smelting plant that continued to operate this summer after being told to cease production earlier this year.

Huixian County Non-Ferrous Metal Smelting Co., Ltd. failed to pass an environmental assessment after its upgrade in 2004, and its waste disposal equipment did not meet national standards.

The plant, which opened in 1996 and produced 5,000 tons of lead per year, was demolished shortly after the exposure of the severe lead poisoning.

Excessive amounts of lead in the body harms the nervous and reproductive systems and can cause high blood pressure and anemia. In severe cases, it can lead to convulsions, coma and even death.