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Lead poisoning sickens hundreds of children in China

At least 500 children from Guangxi, Guangdong and Henan are reportedly suffering from lead poisoning.

China beijing pollution woman 2011 12 07Enlarge
An elderly woman wears a mask as protection against air pollution in Beijing on Nov. 22, 2011. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 500 children in China have dangerously high levels of lead in their blood, South China Morning Post reported. The children are the victims of China's lax environmental regulations. Environmentalists warn that the children with reported lead poisoning represent only the tip of the iceberg.

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Many of the children suffering from lead poisoning live near mining sites, the South China Morning Post said. Excessive mining, bolstered by little government oversight, has wreaked havoc on public health. 

Last week, Indo Asian News Service reported that 64 children have been sickened with lead poisoning in China's Guangdong province. In the Dongtang township of Guangdong, children suffered hair loss and eating disorders, telltale signs of metal poisoning, the South China Morning Post said.

China Water resources minster Jiao Yong told the Daily Telegraph that up to 40 percent of China's rivers are polluted with industrial waste. 

Residents that have tried to fight the environmental degradation have received little help from the government. In September, people from the industrial town of Haining protested the local businesses that polluted the area. Thirty of the protesters were then arrested, AsiaNews reported. Among those arrested was a man "who blogged that local pollution has caused cancer in 31 inhabitants of his village," AsiaNews said. 

Both short-term and long-term exposure to lead can cause brain damage and harm the digestive and reproductive system, the Mayo Clinic says.   

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/120227/lead-poisoning-sickens-hundreds-children-china