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Human Rights Watch accuses China of covering up lead poisoning among children

June 16, 2011 - Beijing

A Human Rights Watch report has accused local authorities in China of sending sick children back to contaminated homes in heavily-polluted industrial areas as part of a cover-up to conceal the amount of lead poisoning in the country.

According to the BBC, the report says that in Henan, Yunnan, Shraanxi and Hunan provinces, people who complain about chronic pollution are harassed.

The report said that hundreds of thousands of children are suffering from lead poisoning.

It said that parents are being denied the right to tests and medical help, and the government should stop delaying a meaningful response, as the problem would damage future economic growth and health care.

"Children with dangerously high levels of lead in their blood are being refused treatment and returned home to contaminated houses in polluted villages," said Joe Amon, the health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch.

Lead poisoning comes from undue exposure to smelting or recycling plants, and can cause children to suffer hearing loss, anaemia and to not grow properly.

The researchers found that parents often had little understanding of why their children did not grow properly, had anaemia or hearing loss.


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