Pollution in China: Hundreds of children poisoned by lead
A factory in the eastern province of Anhui operated illegally for years a few feet away from homes. In 2010 they nine cases of lead pollution were officially recorded. The government is in trouble, as evidenced by the conviction of the activist who exposed the scandal of melamine-tainted milk.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Another pollution scandal in China, and in this case the victims are children: 24 children aged between nine months and 16 years were hospitalized for lead poisoning. About 200 children in the town of Gaohe in the eastern province of Anhui suffer from an excessive concentration of lead in their blood. This is the latest in a long series of incidents of pollution, often with heavy metals, which have affected the provinces of Shandong, Hunan, Shaanxi, Jiangsu and Guangdong in the past two years.

The county government accuses Gahoe Boru battery factory for the pollution. The factory has been operating illegally since 2007 in the immediate vicinity of a residential area. The authorities said that the plant was closed last month, when the first case of pollution was discovered. But residents say that the factory was still active until January 5. And complain that the authorities have not closed another battery factory nearby, which they consider to be another major source of pollution. Both plants are a few dozen meters away from the houses, and residents say they have lived for years in fear of being poisoned.

Environmentalists China last year said that other cases of poisoning are destined to emerge as a result of the increasing dispersal of toxic metals including mercury, arsenic, lead, chromium and cadmium, particularly in rivers and lakes.

The issue of pollution in China came to international prominence when Zhao Lianhai denounced the scandal of melamine-tainted milk, a substance added to the milk powder milk to make it appear richer in protein. Zhao Lianhai is the father of one of the 300 thousand children suffering from kidney stones due to melamine, which has killed at least six of them.

From 2008 onwards Zhao created an opinion group and a blog to claim compensation for damages. Last November he was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for "disturbing public order". (12/29/2010 see: Activist for children affected by melamine toxic milk released, but "self-confessed"). This week, Zhang Ping, director of the Economic Commission for national development and reform in Chinese provinces warned against aspiring to economic growth at any cost. In 2010 there were nine cases of lead pollution recorded in the country. Other episodes - 300 kg of thallium discharged into a river in the southern province of Guangdong indicates the seriousness of the problem and the difficulty of the authorities in addressing the issue of environmental protection.