A Poison Spreads Amid China’s Boom – WSJ

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A caveat: China doesn’t only export cheap goods, now people who benefit from the China Price around the world need to be aware of a potential threat coming from Chinese-made environmental hazards, which are affecting more and more Chinese. See comprehensive coverage of this problem from Wall Street Journal’s Page One story:

Doctors treating a five-year-old boy (in picture here, whose left arm was amputated after an electric shock) after a horrific electrical accident this spring were surprised to find another, equally serious problem: dangerously elevated levels of lead in his blood. …

Clutching their carefully folded lab results and pointing to the numbers — 304, 488 and even 798 — the parents of Xinsi (Êñ∞ÂØ∫) say they finally understand why their children have complained for so long of nausea, headaches and pains. They say their babies’ teeth are growing black or not coming in at all. Parents and teachers say children are having memory and concentration problems.

China’s lead problem is drawing new attention from U.S. regulators. In the past two years, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has recalled roughly 20 products imported from China because of high lead content. They range from beach umbrellas to portable karaoke machines to children’s animal-shaped flashlights. [Full Text (subscribers only)]

See also a report summary (Chinese) based on 10 years of data that suggests that a third of Chinese children are affected by lead poisoning, with the problem especially acute in Shanxi, Henan, Sichuan and other provinces; also Reuter’s China lead smelter poisons thousands and BBC’s Reebok gift in child death scare:

Reebok is recalling 145,000 bracelets in the UK and Ireland amid fears that high levels of lead in the gift may have killed a child in the US.

A four-year-old boy in Minneapolis died from lead poisoning after swallowing one of the bracelets.

The bracelets were produced by a contractor in China, and according to a US health official, are 99% lead.

September 30, 2006 10:00 AM
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Categories: Environment, Society