Wednesday, June 22, 2011

China in lead poisoning 'cover-up' -- Human Rights Watch

China has been accused of trying to cover up the extent of lead poisoning among children, and of blocking effective testing and treatment.

A report by Human Rights Watch says local authorities in heavily-polluted industrial areas have been sending sick children back to contaminated homes.

It says that in these areas - Henan, Yunnan, Shaanxi and Hunan provinces - anyone who complains is being harassed.

China has promised to clean up chronic pollution from heavy metals.

But reports of poisoning remain widespread - hundreds of thousands of children are suffering from lead poisoning, the HRW report says.

It says that parents are being denied the right to tests and medical help, and says 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.

There was no immediate response from the Chinese government to the allegations. (read more)