China Blames Pencil-Chewing For Lead Poisoning in Children

Published Date : Jun 19, 2014

Blaming the habitual pencil-chewing as the reason behind the recent phenomenon of lead poisoning in over 300 children in a Town in China, Chinese officials have clearly downplayed the possibility of a chemical plant in the town being at fault.  

The state media has reported a case of tests done on nearly 300 children in Dapu, Hunan province. The results showed that levels of lead well exceeded those in normal cases. Many of the children studied are too young to go to schools. But according a Chinese official from Dapu’s governing department, Su Genlin, it is all because children tend to gnaw their pencils while studying. 

While making the comment, the official seemed careless about the hazards posed by the chemical plant located nearby the village and the laboratory results that mentioned high levels (22 times the legal limit) of lead in the village’s airborne dust. The official also did not mention the drainage from the chemical factory being directly flooded in the village’s river, which could quite naturally contain alarming levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and zinc.  

It seems that the official failed to cross-examine the actual meaning of “pencil-leads”. It is well known that pencil leads are made from graphite. The correlation in names of pencil leads and the heavy metal occurs due to the inaccuracy in understanding the real nature of graphite at the time it was discovered during the early 16th century.   

The illogical comments from this official have been met with huge criticism from people all around China. Dapu’s population is outraged at the realty that their children are being subjected to harmful substances that can damage vital organs such as brain liver, kidney and can pose damage to nervous system. But they are not alone in the outcry of dismal. One can easily find thousands of cases of lead poisoning in Chinese children, cases clearly linked with industrial pollution.