(NaturalNews) The improper disposal of toxic waste released by industrial factories continues to plague China, sickening and critically injuring many unsuspecting victims.
The latest instance occurred when a chemical plant in Hunan province's Hengdong County had its electricity shut off amid claims that it poisoned hundreds of children over at least a two-year period.
According to The Telegraph, the plant had been dumping toxic untreated waste into the region's air and water supply, sickening at least 300 children with lead poisoning in the township of Dapu.
Elevated levels of lead in the bloodstream can stifle development in children, induce comas and convulsions, and cause death. Long-term effects include lowered IQs, learning disabilities, slowed development, hearing loss and height and hyperactivity reduction.
"My body is weak and I feel dizzy all the time," complained Huang Junjun, one of the affected schoolboys.
The practices carried out by the Meilun Chemical Materials factory have resulted in what officials are calling a "health crisis." However, Communist Party chiefs in Hengdog County have expressed little sympathy, blaming the poisoning on children's habits of chewing "lead pencils."
"Children bite pencils, which may also cause the excessive levels of lead [in their blood]," said Su Genlin, the party chief in the affected region.
"When kids are studying, they gnaw on their pencils--that also can cause lead poisoning," Genlin said, as quoted by Quartz.
The claim is asinine, considering that lead pencils have been produced with non-toxic graphite rather than heavy metals since the 1500s.
Industrial plants blame expensive waste-disposal costs and lax government regulations for their deadly practices.
National outrage over the health crisis forced officials to close the factory, disassembling equipment over the weekend and suspending three environmental officials.
The government's lackadaisical response is concerning, considering that the nation recently launched a "war on pollution." It's clear that China is more concerned with advancing their economy than protecting its citizens and/or the environment.
"In the last few years, Hunan alone has seen many tens of thousands of children poisoned by lead linked to industrial waste," reportedQuartz.
"Lead poisoning is among China's most common pediatric health problems, igniting protests around China in recent years." Pollution is winning
In Beijing alone, efforts to address environmental hazards overwhelmed officials after they claimed to have received 5,000-6,000 complaints a month, reportedThe Guardian.
Clearly, environmental problems plaguing the region stem much farther than just the city of Beijing, creating suffering among many less prosperous cities.
While China has made legislative improvements aimed at dealing with pollution, officials say the nation's economy is advancing faster than government workers can reprimand and stop violators.
Economic growth takes first priority in China, with some officials receiving promotions "based solely on their ability to boost economic growth," as reported by Quartz.
China's failure, or unwillingness, to prevent toxins from entering air and water resources manifests in sick children, affecting many too young to attend school.
What's more is that airborne dust in Dapu tested for levels 22 times the legal limit of lead. Reports confirmed levels of "lead, zinc, cadmium and arsenic in the factory drainage ditch, which flows into the village's river, were all at three times the acceptable level."
Pollution widely distributed throughout China is linked to thousands of contaminated exports, many reaching consumers in the U.S. Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, recently appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, warning the public about the dangers of heavy metals found in rice protein, ginkgo herbs, cacao and other products coming from China.
Many times, one or more ingredients in a product manufactured in the USA are produced in China; however, buyers are unable to learn where each ingredient is derived. This puts consumers at risk when they unknowingly consume toxic materials.