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Two Shanghai factories have been ordered closed, as local environment watchers fear contamination causing lead poisoning. Exposure to lead can lead to damage in the nervous and reproductive systems, as well as kidneys.
Children have recently suffered from lead poisoning in the Kanghua New Village residential area, just north of Shanghai's Kangqiao Industrial Zone.
The local Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau has ordered two of the industrial zone's factories to close -- and plans to investigate their unauthorized lead-related production activities.
One of the factories is a China subsidiary of the US-based multinational lead-acid battery maker Johnson Controls. It was closed last week.
Staff at the other company, Shanghai Xinmingyuan Automobile Accessory Co., confirmed it had stopped its "unauthorized" lead-related production -- but the company's officials seemed not to have faced enforcement of such regulations before the lead poisoning cases emerged.
[Li Zhiliang, Xinmingyuan Factory Manager]:
"We did not know that we cannot produce products with lead without a license."
Residents in the Kanghua New Village say at least 10 children have been hospitalized due to extra high level of lead found in their blood.
Some residents blamed Communist Party authorities for not doing enough to supervise the pollution coming from the factories in the area.
[Cao Gong, Father of Lead-Poisoned Child]:
"They should immediately inform the hospital how to treat these children so that they can get well as soon as possible. As of now, they have not even come to ask us about our situation."
[Feng Linjuan, Grandfather of Lead-Poisoned Child]:
"We are just farmers and don't know which factory is polluting and which factory is not. After they were developed here, we never expected that such illness would occur. [The authorities] should know this, which factories are poisoning us and which are not."
Lead poisoning can damage various parts of the body including the nervous and reproductive systems and the kidneys, and it can cause high blood pressure and anemia.
China's environment ministry has called for measures to tackle heavy metal poisoning, as cases of mass poisoning have created widespread public anger.
The ministry said in August that China had phased out 583 lead-acid battery producers, processor and recyclers as of end-July this year in a nationwide crackdown.
It had started the crackdown on lead-acid battery operations after a large lead-acid battery producer in Zhejiang Province was accused of being the source of lead poisoning in late April.