A Chinese investigation has found ‘no evidence’ of dangerous pollution originally thought to have given serious health problems to nearly 500 children at a school in Changzhou, according to the BBC.
On April 17, China’s national state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported that nearly five out of six pupils at the school, which was opened next to a former industrial site, had developed serious health problems.
The topic went viral and the CCTV news bulletin was viewed nationwide on the blogging website Weibo:
The children at Changzou Foreign Language School fell ill to sicknesses such as dermatitis, blood abnormalities, leukemia and lymphoma thought to be a result of air, soil and water toxins.
The investigation does not identify what caused the children to become seriously ill, but Changzhou city officials told the official Xinhua News agency that “there was no link between the location of the school with an increased incidence of thyroid nodule among school kids.”
Xinhua reported that ‘the investigators said the incidence of thyroid nodule among the general public is also on the rise.’
At the time, state TV reported that soil tests near the school showed chemical levels at 95,000 times the national limit, but now a three-month-study of the area claims that contamination levels were within the national limits.
The Changzou Foreign Language School in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, was built near recently-closed chemical plants, and the CCTV news bulletin in April contained pictures of what it claimed was the arm of a sick pupil.
The April news report, viewed online by tens of millions of people across the country, contained a 12-year-old pupil who said “I have leg cramps and pimples, and the skin on my hands is flaky.”
The school campus is positioned close to the former site of three chemical plants which were shut down in 2011.
The investigators apparently pointed out that technical issues with the initial soil rehabilitation process, such as the lack of an airtight shed and waste gas collection equipment, lead to the confusion over the April results.
As a consequence, Changzhou city government has ordered that environmental supervision during the soil rehabilitation process is to be stepped up.