According to a resident of Shibin, nearly 80 per cent of the village’s schoolchildren under the age of 14 have tested positive for moderate lead poisoning, and over 100 have been diagnosed with severe lead poisoning.
Because the company wants the plants to reopen as soon as possible, local authorities have been forced to move elementary and middle school students to another school in Jiyuan, offering nutritional therapy to the children most seriously affected.
Local officials have also offered living stipends totalling 720 RMB per month for families with small children who wish to move away from the most heavily polluted areas, but for many residents the offer is inadequate.
Adults have also been tested but some residents suspect that doctors have been ordered to underreport cases of adult lead poisoning.
A local website, the Jiyuan Discussion Forum, was recently blocked and posts by villagers were deleted because they criticised the authorities.
In recent months, cases of large-scale lead poisoning have been reported in other provinces like Shaanxi, Hunan and Fujian.