Newsletter Signup
Tianying, China

Tianying, China

  • Potentially Affected People: 140,000
  • Type of Pollutants: Lead and other heavy metals
  • Source of Pollution: Mining and processing

The Problem

Tianying in Anhui province is one of the largest lead production bases in China, with an output accounting for half of the country's total production. Low-level technologies, illegal operation and the lack of any serious pollution control measures in the firms have caused several severe lead poisoning cases in the region. It is also believed that there are numerous small scale recycling plants in the area, which are notorious for polluting. As a result of these indiscriminate practices, lead processing firms in Tianying have been pressured by local residents and officials to shut down their operations.

The average lead concentrations in air and soils were (respectively) 8.5 times and 10 times national health standards. Eighty-five per cent of air samples collected had lead concentrations higher than the national standards. Local crops and wheat at farmers' homes were also contaminated by lead dust, with some levels 24 times higher than national standards.

Health Impacts

Residents, particularly children, are reported to suffer from lead poisoning and its related effects: lead encephalopathy, lower IQs, short attention spans, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, impaired physical growth, hearing and visual problems, stomach aches, irritation of the colon, kidney malfunction, anaemia and brain damage. Pregnant women have reported numerous cases of premature births and smaller/underdeveloped infants.

Status of Clean-Up Activity

In June of 2000 SEPA (State Administration of Environmental Protection) designated this area as one of the eight worst polluted sites in China. The local administration ordered that all lead processing firms be shut down until they addressed their environmental impacts. The government has demanded that all lead processing firms move their operations to a specified industrial zone and improve their treatment facilities. New lead smelters in China will have to be large scale, modern and with adequate pollution controls. It is not known how effectively these orders are being implemented.