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Factory shut after kids poisoned by lead

AUTHORITIES in a south China city ordered health checks for children living in a building near a battery factory, which was also shut today after 44 children were poisoned by lead.

The environmental authority in Qingyuan City of Guangdong Province said the results of tests are yet to be determined, but an unnamed official confirmed the number of poisoned children could be higher than the reported 44, according to Xinhua news agency today.

Parents tested their children after they started becoming ill in 2008. Most were under three years old and almost all had high levels of lead in their blood.

One 10-month-old baby had 550 micrograms of lead in one liter of blood, well over the safe maximum of 100 micrograms, according to the report.

About 1,000 children live in the building and those older than three years were tested.

Qingyuan government promised that all children diagnosed with excessive lead levels will be treated at government expense. The environmental authority said it will scrutinize every chemical factory in the economic development zone to eliminate pollution sources.

The battery workshop was set up in the industrial park in 1996 and was honored as "creditable enterprise" by the city government for 10 consecutive years. It also gained a "green production" certificate from China's Environmental United Certification Center in 2006.


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