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More than 200 children have been found with high levels of lead in their blood in China's eastern Anhui province, state media reported on Thursday. The children all live nearby battery factories in Gaohe, in Anqing City. So far, 24 have been hospitalized with serious lead poisoning.
Some of these children are just a few months old, but their blood already contains higher than normal amounts of lead.
It's the latest case of heavy metal poisoning in China. This time, the mass outbreak is found in Gaohe, in eastern Anhui province.
More than 200 children tested since last month have high levels of lead in their blood, state-media reported on Thursday. Twenty four of them with serious lead poisoning have been hospitalized.
Locals say pollution from nearby battery factories is to blame.
[Relative of Affected Children]:
"Why are we here? Our front door is less than 100 meters away from a battery factory."
Lead poisoning results from repeated exposure to lead, and is especially harmful to the developing brains of young children. Mr. Xu, whose child is one of those affected in Gaohe, says the local environment is heavily polluted.
[Mr. Xu, Father]:
"Lead—there is a thick layer on the ground and vegetation, a thick layer of lead dust that turns your hand black. The water is also polluted."
Another woman who wished to stay anonymous says local authorities have known about the problem, but refuse to act.
"There are five or six polluting factories here, a gas plant and a plastic factory. We've mentioned it many times, calling the Count Chief, but he doesn't respond. He says, 'I'm not responsible for this.' How can this be?"
The two battery factories blamed for the lead poisoning have now been shut down, state media reported.