School in China orders probe over ‘toxic’ soil, water after pupils develop cancer and other health problems
Health checks carried out on 640 pupils at private high school find three in four have health problems including bronchitis, thyroid problems, leukaemia and lymphoma, state TV reports
originally posted on April 18, 2016
Authorities in east China have ordered an investigation after hundreds of pupils suffering from serious health problem after their school was relocated beside a former site for chemical plants.
The municipal government in Changzhou, Jiangsu province said that since December last year, pupils and teachers at the privately run Changzhou Foreign Languages School had been complaining of an unusual smell coming from the site of three former chemical plants nearby.
City officials said that a soil restoration project was underway at the site at the time of the complaints. An environmental-expert panel concluded in February that the programme had achieved the expected results and that the air quality met national standards.
But state-run China Central Television (CCTV), said soil and groundwater in the area was found to contain toxic compounds and heavy metals, with the level of carcinogenic chlorobenzene in the ground water nearly 100,000 times the safety limit.
Parents of students at the mid- to senior secondary school had suspected for months that the contaminated environment was to blame for the rashes, coughs and headaches their children began to develop at the end of last year.
CCTV reported that parents sent 641 students for medical checks, which revealed that 493 had health problems, including bronchitis, blood and thyroid abnormalities, and in some cases lymphoma and leukaemia.
Authorities said that out of the school’s 2,451 students five were on leave, including four citing illness, and another five students were waiting to be transferred to another school. The rest are in school. Three out of the school’s 210 teachers are on medical leave.