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Village lead production hurts local children

Update: December, 08/2014 - 09:14
Producing lead from batteries has become a lucrative occupation for residents of Dong Mai village. — Photo xahoi

HUNG YEN (VNS) — Producing lead from batteries has become a lucrative occupation for residents of Dong Mai village. Yet few realise how seriously it is affecting children, 300 of whom currently suffer from lead poisoning, according to the National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health.

The Institute raised concern about the problem two years ago, reporting that 109 children had excess lead concentrations in their blood. Recently, they tested more blood samples and found that the problem had become increasingly widespread.

Chief of Dong Mai Village Le Huy Guong told Gia Dinh & Xa Hoi newspaper that making lead from broken batteries had become a major source of income for residents of the village, located in Hung Yen Province's Chi Dao Commune. However, while people were eager to shift from agriculture to lead production, this job created health problems because the villagers used no advanced technologies or even protective gear.

Moreover, their failure to dispose properly of battery acid and components polluted the water, while the air was filled with dust and smoke.

Khuat Duy Thong, Van Lam District Medical Centre Director, said that children with a high proportion of lead in their blood risked physical and mental damage.

He said the centre had worked with the Viet Nam Poison Control Centre to find and treat lead poisoning victims. The National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health also worked with the Viet Nam Poison Control Centre to treat children whose lead proportion in the blood was four times the accepted limit.

However, the two-to-three-year treatment was costly for families, so many parents refused to treat their children.

The province and district authorities allowed Chi Dao Commune's Lead Production Association to build a collective lead-production park gathering local producers.

Two-thirds of lead-producing households have shifted production there, while the rest have been ordered to do so by the end of the year. The park, which is separate from residential areas, provides access to dust-filtering systems, toilets, medical assistance and upgraded production technologies. — VNS

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