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Chinese Official Blames “Lead” In Pencils for Lead Poisoning In Children
- Updated: June 16, 2014
In the Dapu Township, in central province of Hunan, lead levels in the blood of about 300 children were found to be thrice the national standard. A Chinese government official Su Genlin, who is the chief of the Dapu Township, blamed the pencil chewing habits of the children for the lead poisoning. Incidentally, the ‘lead’ in pencil is actually graphite. The official was later ridiculed and rebuked by the state run media who pointed towards a local chemical plant as the main culprit.
The People’s daily which is considered as the mouthpiece of the ruling communist party published an op-ed that criticized the official. “It is scientific knowledge that pencils are made from graphite,” the article said. “Does this official’s statement show ignorance, or just disregard for the people’s welfare?”
The chemical plant in question has been shut down and government will now investigate both the owner of the chemical plant and local environmental protection agency.
This is not the first instance of lead poisoning in the country. Earlier in 2009 tests found excessive lead levels in over a thousand children in the northern province of Shaanxi and a smelter responsible for the lead poisoning was closed down consequently.
China’s rapid industrialization and economic growth has caused irreparable environmental damage that has lead to a public health nightmare. According to environmental studies, 60% of the country’s underground water is undrinkable due to contamination, and about two thirds of the soil in China is polluted.
Though the government is trying to bring the situation under control and repair at least some of the damage, they aren’t making much headway especially in the poorer areas of the country where local government turns a blind eye to the heavily polluting industries because of the tax they receive from these industries.