Published Date: 2009-08-23 09:04:41
Subject: PRO/MBDS> Lead poisoning - China (03): Hunan
Archive Number: 20090823.2975
LEAD POISONING - CHINA (03): HUNAN
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Fri 21 Aug 2009
Source: Radio The Voice of Viet Nam (VOV) News [edited]
Authorities in central China's Hunan province have shut down a
smelter and detained 2 of its executives after more than 1300 local
children were suspected to have lead poisoning, the 2nd such scandal
in the country within a month [August 2009].
As of [19 Aug 2009], 1354 children in Wenping town of Wugang City
were diagnosed as having excessive lead in their blood, with more
than 100 milligrams of lead per litre of blood compared with the
normal zero to 100 milligrams, an official with the city government
said on [20 Aug 2009].
They made up nearly 70 percent of the total 1956 children who
received government-funded blood tests at local hospitals this week
[17-21 Aug 2009], he said on condition of anonymity.
The children, aged under 14, are from 4 villages near Wugang
Manganese Smelting Plant in Wenping town. However, they need another
test by the industrial illness authority in the provincial capital
Changsha before the final diagnosis, the official said.
By [20 Aug 2009], 83 cases had been confirmed by the Changsha
authority: 17 were diagnosed as "moderate poisoning" with blood lead
levels between 250 and 499 milligrams, 28 as "slight poisoning" with
200 to 249 milligrams and another 38 with 100 to 199 milligrams.
The 17 moderate poisoning cases have been hospitalized in Changsha
and will receive free treatment, while the slight cases would be
treated at home. Final test results for the other suspected cases
will be published within a week.
[The above newswire is the 3rd lead poisoning event in the news in
China since 10 Aug 2009. However, this is the 1st report of lead
poisoning in Hunan province, and almost 70 percent of children (1354
out of 1956) in Hunan province were reported with excessive blood
lead levels [BLLs].
The 1st 2 news events of lead poisoning were reported in Shaanxi
province. As of 20 Aug 2009, 84 percent of children (851 out of 1016)
in Shaanxi province were found to have excessive lead levels in their
blood (see prior PRO/MBDS posting lead poisoning China (02): Shaanxi
Lead is particularly harmful to the developing brain and nervous
system of fetuses and young children. Lead poisoning, for the most
part, is asymptomatic. The vast majority of cases, therefore, go
undiagnosed and untreated.
Very high lead levels in children can cause severe neurologic
problems such as coma, convulsion, and even death. Lower levels cause
adverse effects on the central nervous system, kidney, and
hematopoietic system. Blood lead levels as low as 10 micrograms per
deciliter, which do not cause distinctive symptoms, are associated
with decreased intelligence and impaired neurobehavioral development
Venous BLL testing is the most useful screening and diagnostic test
for recent or ongoing lead exposure as opposed to past exposures.
BLLs respond relatively rapidly to abrupt or intermittent changes in
lead intake and, for relatively short exposure periods, bear a linear
relationship to those intake levels. For individuals with high or
chronic past exposure, however, BLLs often under-represent the total
body burden, because most lead is stored in the bone and may have
"normal" levels in the blood (see
According to the above newswire, there had been 83 confirmed cases of
lead poisoning in Hunan province as of 20 Aug 2009. Among those 83
confirmed cases, 54 percent (45 out of 83) were found with more than
200 miligram per litre of blood lead levels (BLLs).
For a map of China with provinces, see
For the interactive HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of China with links to
other ProMED-mail and PRO/MBDS postings in China and surrounding
areas, see <http://healthmap.org/r/00b0>. - Mod.SCM]