Two Chinese battery factories were shuttered after 24 children between the ages of nine months and 16 years old were hospitalized for lead poisoning, the BBC is reporting.
The latest in a recent string of battery-related poisonings, at least 200 children living in Anhui province's Huaining county were found to have elevated lead levels after a series of tests that began in late December. Of that 200, 24 of them were designated as "moderate to severe" cases that required further treatment and hospitalization. According to CNN, an additional five are expected to be hospitalized.
Authorities confirmed the affected children came from homes in close proximity to the factories in the densely-populated area. According to Reuters, one of the plants was separated from residences in Gaohe only by a narrow road, in clear violation of environmental protection guidelines. One factory, the Borui Battery Co. Ltd., was found to be operating illegally. "We can draw a clear conclusion that the lead poisoning was caused by the lead pollution of the battery plants," a official at the hospital were the children were undergoing treatment confirmed.
Local parents say they became concerned after their children appeared irritable and hyperactive.
"My son is now very cranky and restless. He yells a lot," the father of a five-year-old boy that was found to have 330.9 micrograms of lead per litre of blood is quoted by the Guardian as saying. Just 100mcg per litre of blood is enough to impair brain development in children.