The plant, in Dapu in the southern province of
Hunan, has been shut down after tests found that more than 300
children had excessive levels of lead in their blood, the Global
Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's official
People's Daily, said.
Su Genlin, head of the Dapu government, said the children could
have been made sick by "biting pencils", the newspaper reported,
despite the fact that the "lead" in pencils is graphite.
The government has now announced a probe into both the owner of
the chemical plant and local environmental protection agency,
the report added.
Chinese media frequently report on similar cases in a country
where breakneck economic growth has come at a terrible price for
the natural environment in many places.
In 2009, a smelter was closed after it was blamed for the lead
poisoning of almost 1,000 children in the northern province of
Despite repeated pledges to get tough, the government faces an
uphill struggle in poorer parts of the country where local
authorities often rely on tax receipts from heavily polluting
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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