Lead Poisoning Becomes a Threat to China

The scandals caused by lead poisoning are increasing in China, despite the Government’s public commitment to stop them, they have become a new source of social instability in China, where local governments often hide the incidents. More than 600 cases of lead poisoning were reported in eastern China, with heavy metal in the blood in the town of Yangxunqiao (coastal province of Zhejiang). The victims are workers in factories producing tin foil and some of their children, 26 adults and 103 children have been seriously poisoned.

This is the latest case of a problem that affects many people in China, where neighbors often live just a few meters away from factories and workshops with minimum safety conditions to manufacture as cheap as possible. The scandal is in addition to those recorded in recent months on this and other provinces in China, where rapid economic growth, the desire for immediate profit, lax controls and official corruption have caused serious environmental problems, which often lead to outbursts of violence by those affected.

Hundreds of lead-acid batteries factories have been closed in Zhejiang, after the official press published cases of poisoning. The Environment Ministry has called for urgent action because the poison has created great resentment among the population. Last month said Zhou Shengxian, head of the ministry, “affect the health of people, particularly children, and social harmony and stability.”

China is the largest producer and consumer of refined lead. Although the ban on adding this metal to gasoline in the late 90’s helped to reduce a major source of poisoning, the country’s progress and the rise in the production of cars, electric bicycles and electronic devices has boosted demand for batteries.