China shut down two battery factories in the eastern province of Anhui. The country's official news agency Xinhua said 24 children who live near the factories have been hospitalized with suspected lead poisoning; at least 200 other children were found to have high lead levels.
NPR's Louisa Lim reports that this is just the latest in a string of heavy metal poisonings:
Such cases can unleash widespread public anger. Two years ago, protestors attacked a smelting works, which they blamed for poisoning more than 600 children. But in profit-hungry China, safety standards are often ignored in the pursuit of wealth and even when it endangers the most vulnerable members of society.
Lim reports that under Chinese law, there should be an area of buffer between the factories and residential areas, as elevated lead levels can impair brain development.