I was going through some subscribed articles on my Blackberry handset then came across this interesting piece captioned: “Lead Poisoning in China: The Hidden Scourge”. The fist thing that came to my mind was the Zamfara State Lead poisoning saga in Nigeria which I analysed earlier in one of my postings on this blog.
This incidence occurred in MENGXI village in China which harboured a battery factory (Zhejiang Haijiu Battery Factory). The factory manufactures lead acid battery for use by motorcycles and electric bikes.
Interestingly, the factory in its 6th year of operation in the area (providing jobs and other source of livelihood to the populace), flagrantly violated environmental regulations and polluted the environment without the knowledge of the locals. This became overt last March, when a Medical doctor told the father of a 3 year-old (an employee of the factory who lived just across the road from the plant) that his daughter had absorbed enough lead that could harm her nervous system and irreversibly diminish her intellectual capacity.
The news had spread further that workers from that factory and other villagers alike had been poisoned by lead emissions from the factory, a development that pushed the locals to take laws into their hands.
It is important to mention that in China and especially in recent months, there were similar instances where the local governments authorities tried to cover up the messes of similar lead industries. This is often as a result of pursuit of dividends of economic development by the local officials thus overlooking environmental contamination, worker safety and dangers to public health.
It is as a result of this recent development that the Human Rights Watch released a report last Wednesday which stated that some local officials have reacted to mass poisonings by arbitrarily limiting lead testing, withholding and possibly manipulating test results, denying proper treatment to children and adults and trying to silence parents and activists.
In comparison to more developed nations where lead pollution has been tightly regulated for decades, this and similar incidences of lead poisonings in China, would for sure be deemed a public-health emergency.
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