China lead poisoning outbreak hits more than 600

Two Chinese children hold up their blood test results indicating high lead content at a clinic in Wugang, in central China's Hunan province on August 22, 2009. Two environmental officials in central China are being investigated after more than 1,300 children tested positive for suspected lead poisoning, a move comes after two executives of the Wugang Manganese Smelting Plant in Hunan province were arrested and the factory shut down for pollution leading to the suspected cases. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

Children hold up their blood test results indicating high lead content at a clinic in central China after a mass lead poisoning incident in 2009.
Getty Images

(CBS/AP) China's latest outbreak of lead poisoning has affected more than 600 people, including 103 children, state media reported Sunday.

The victims are workers from 25 family-run tinfoil processing workshops - and their children - in Yangxunqiao, a town in eastern China, according to the official XinHua News Agency. Tests revealed that 26 adults and all 103 kids experienced severe lead poisoning, while 494 others had moderate lead poisoning, Xinhua reported.

The workshops, which use lead to process tinfoil, have since suspended operation.

Last month, dozens of people in the same region were sickened by lead and cadmium poisoning. Seventy-four people were detained, and production was suspended at hundreds of battery factories.

In response to the reports of widespread contamination from heavy metals, capital city Beijing has announced plans for stricter supervision. Local authorities are now taking action to curb pollution.

Lead poisoning can damage the nervous, muscular and reproductive systems. Children, in particular, are at risk.

In the U.S., exposure to lead-based paint and lead-containing dust are the primary sources of lead poisoning. Lead-based paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978, but houses built before then are likely to contain some of the paint.

Approximately 250,000 American kids have elevated lead levels, according to the CDC.

The CDC has more on lead poisoning.

  • Monica DyBuncio

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