HANGZHOU, June 12 (Xinhua) -- More than 600 people, including 103 children, have been found to be suffering from lead poisoning in east China's Zhejiang Province, according to local health authorities.
Workers at 25 family-run tinfoil processing workshops in the township of Yangxunqiao, located in the province's Shaoxing County, have dangerously high levels of lead in their blood, according to results from a preliminary medical test.
Several of the workers' children also have high levels of lead, according to the results.
Results from the test showed that 26 adults and 103 children are suffering from severe lead poisoning, said a spokesman with the county's health bureau. ' Severe lead poisoning is defined as having more than 600 micrograms of lead per liter of blood for an adult and more than 250 micrograms for a child, said the spokesman.
The 129 poisoning victims are undergoing a second test, and 12 of them are receiving treatment at a local hospital, the spokesman said, adding that those confirmed to be suffering from severe lead poisoning will be treated for free.
Another 494 people have been found to be suffering from moderate lead poisoning, which is defined as having 400 to 600 micrograms of lead per liter of blood, the spokesman said.
Lead is commonly used in tinfoil processing. Workers and their family members, including children, are frequently exposed to lead materials in the family-run workshops in Yangxunqiao.
However, China has not yet formulated standards for the use of lead in tinfoil processing.
Medical experts say that although children tend to absorb more lead than adults, they also discharge far less, which can lead to fatal levels of lead in their blood.
Excessive amounts of lead in the blood can damage the digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems and cause stomachaches, anemia and convulsions.
The 25 workshops have suspended operations, according to the township government.
The county's environmental bureau has sampled water, air and soil in nearby regions and found no contamination, according to the township government.
In Yangxunqiao, more than 2,500 people, mainly from southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, are employed by nearly 200 tinfoil processing workshops.