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Clean Error: China shuts down two plants in connection with lead poisoning

By Email author - Fri, 16 Sep 2011 20:37:15 GMT
China shuts down plants in connection with lead poisoning

Making good on promises to reign in pollution, Chinese officials said Friday that they have ordered two plants to temporarily shut down, including one belonging to Johnson Controls, a U.S.-based Fortune 500 company that specializes in the manufacture of car batteries.

Operations at the plants were halted after several children in Kangqiao, in eastern Shanghai, were discovered to have "excessive levels of lead in their body," according to a statement from the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau. The agency said that it was investigating whether or not smoke and dust emitted from the plant contained lead.

Johnson Controls

Image Credit: © Johnson Controls

The exact number of children deemed to have unhealthy levels of lead was undisclosed, although Reuters is reporting that at least 10 children have been hospitalized because of lead exposure.

Along with Johnson Controls, officials also ordered the temporary closure of a plant called Shanghai Xinmingyuan Automobile Accessory Co.

The crackdown on potential lead contamination is in line with declarations made earlier this year. In February, Chinese officials vowed to get tough on "heavy-metal pollution" such as mercury, arsenic and lead. About $11.4 billion was devoted to the effort, and stiffer restrictions have ensued.

Lead Form Periodic Table Of Elements

Image Credit: Lead, Periodic Table © FZ Design

An investigation in May prompted to the detainment of 74 people, as well as the temporary shutdown of hundreds of battery factories.

According to officials in the eastern province of Zhejiang, 172 people fell ill with lead poisoning, including 53 children.

And last month, Chinese officials have also publicly chided Apple for what it claims was negligent monitoring of the company's suppliers.

A report issued by the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs said that nearly 30 suspected Apple suppliers had severe pollution problems, including toxic gas emmissions and the production of "heavy metal sludge." The report said that one village near an Apple supplier had experienced a "phenomenal rise in cases of cancer."

Along with Apple and Johnson Controls, another American-based company to draw the ire of China recently is ConocoPhillips, which was at the heart of a public tongue-lashing following a summer oil spill.

ConocoPhillips

Image Credit © ConocoPhillips

Clean Error is an Earth Times blog that looks at China's position as both the world's biggest polluter and fastest-growing manufacturer of green technology. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

Top Image Credit: © H. Brauer

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Topics: Pollution