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China to fight pollution with heavy metals reduction plan

BEIJING -- China has adopted a plan to tackle heavy-metal pollution, state media reported Saturday, after more than 30 major poisoning incidents since 2009.

The government has set a target of reducing emissions of five metals — lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium and arsenic — by 15 percent from 2007 levels over the next five years, the China Daily said.

China discharged 900 tonnes of the highly toxic metals in 2007, the paper reported, and Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian said 75 billion yuan (US$11.4 billion) would be needed over the five years to address the problem.

The report did not say whether this funding had been allocated.

Nearly 4,500 enterprises, including mines, battery manufacturers, leather producers and the chemical industry, have been identified as key monitoring targets.

“More than 30 major heavy-metal poisoning incidents have occurred since 2009, posing a grave threat to public health, especially to children,” Zhou said.

Last month 28 children, including some less than a year old, were rushed to hospital in the eastern province of Anhui with lead poisoning caused by a local battery factory.

A report earlier this week found that up to 10 percent of rice grown in China is tainted with heavy metals.

The China Daily cited the breakneck expansion of heavy-metal industries, outdated technology and a lack of effective monitoring as the main reasons for the pollution.

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