China accuses US firm over child lead poisoning

Feb 27, 2012
This file illustration photo shows cyclists passing through thick smoke from a nearby factory in northwestern China. Authorities in Shanghai have accused US Fortune 500 battery maker Johnson Controls and several other companies of emitting excessive amounts of lead blamed for poisoning dozens of children.

Authorities in Shanghai have accused US Fortune 500 battery maker Johnson Controls and several other companies of emitting excessive amounts of lead blamed for poisoning dozens of children.

The US giant denies a plant it owns was responsible for the pollution in the Chinese city's Kangqiao area, where 49 children, most of them aged between one and three, were diagnosed with in September.

A report posted on the Shanghai government's official microblog page on Saturday blamed three companies for pollution and said at least two were directly responsible for the children's condition.

"An investigation found that Johnson Controls expanded its production scale without approval," the government said, adding the plant's lead emissions were excessive.

Two other companies -- Shanghai Xinmingyuan Automobile Parts Co Ltd and Shanghai Kangshuo Co Ltd -- were also found to be polluting the environment with lead. All three plants have since been shut down.

"The link between children with excessive lead in their blood in Kangqiao and Johnson Controls' lead emissions is quite obvious and there is a definite link with Xinmingyuan's lead emissions," the government said.

Lead poisoning is considered hazardous, particularly to children, who can experience stunted growth and .

Fraser Engerman, spokesman for Johnson Controls, denied the link.

"Through our monitoring and analysis of our plant's , we are confident that the plant was operating well below the levels specified by Chinese environmental regulations," he said in an email to AFP.

"Based on all available facts, Johnson Controls disagrees with any interpretation linking our plant's operation to elevated lead exposure in the Kangqiao area."

The other two companies refused to comment when contacted by AFP.

According to Shanghai authorities, three of the children are still in hospital, but they are getting better.

China's rapid industrialisation over the past 30 years has left the country with widespread environmental damage that has triggered numerous public health scares.

Last year, authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang detained 74 people and suspended work at hundreds of factories after 172 people -- including 53 -- fell ill with lead poisoning.

Explore further: Study reveals abundance of microplastics in the world's deep seas

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China shuts US plant in lead scare: report

Sep 23, 2011

An American-owned battery plant in China will remain shut until the end of the year over fears it has caused lead poisoning in local children, the Shanghai Daily reported on Friday.

Shanghai shuts 2 factories in lead poisoning probe

Sep 16, 2011

(AP) -- Shanghai's environmental watchdog ordered two factories in its suburbs to halt production pending an investigation into the source of lead poisoning among children in a nearby village.

Shanghai families say kids poisoned by lead

Sep 15, 2011

(AP) -- Families living in one of Shanghai's many industrial suburbs say their children are suffering from lead poisoning from nearby factories and recycling facilities.

Excess heavy metals in 10% of China's land: report

Nov 07, 2011

About 10 percent of China's farmland contains excessive levels of heavy metals due to contaminated water and poisonous waste seeping into the soil, state media said Monday, citing a government survey.

Recommended for you

New York state bans fracking

6 hours ago

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing health concerns about the controversial oil and gas drilling technique.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

aironeous
1 / 5 (1) Feb 27, 2012
Hard to believe who is telling the truth but it is also hard to believe this is not China trying to get back at us for all of the bad trade practices we claim they do

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.