China Calls for Action to Stop Lead Poisoning

Reuters’ Royston Chan reports from Dazhai:

China’s environmental protection minister has demanded urgent measures to tackle heavy metal poisoning, state media said on Thursday, as anger grows amongst parents with children poisoned by lead.

Incidents of lead poisoning have dogged China’s heavy metal bases in Shaanxi, Hunan, Henan and Yunnan provinces, leading to the closure of smelters that has brought a two-week rally in lead prices.

Lead prices rallied more than 5 percent on Thursday to hit their highest level in 13 months.

… But while the Environment Ministry’s urges action, Beijing continues to clamp down on discussion of the extent of the problem for fear it will lead to unrest.

The Ministry of Propaganda ordered Chinese news media to play down poisoning reports during upcoming National Day holidays, when the Communist Party celebrates 60 years of rule, according to posts translated by the China Digital Times.

“The Chinese government is afraid that public reporting on such often widespread issues will cause a strong public reaction in requiring accountability of the government,” said CDT founder Xiao Qiang who teaches journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

September 3, 2009 6:11 AM
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