Toxic chemicals in paint used in China

Update:30 Apr 2007

More than 400 schoolchildren in northeast China's Liaoning Province who had just moved into freshly-painted classrooms have had to undergo medical treatment, local sources said on Sunday.

Some 22 students from the primary section of the Shalingzhen School in Panshan County of Liaoning's Panjin city reported nausea, dizziness and giddiness at about 10 a.m. last Tuesday, a day after their classrooms had been refurbished.

More students, including those from primary and secondary schools, soon followed suit. A total of almost 400 have now received medical treatment in local hospitals in Panjin, while another 60 students went to the capital city of Shenyang and are still under observation at the Shengjing Hospital affiliated to the Chinese University of Medical Sciences.

Chemicals used to paint and refurbish the classrooms are the likely cause of the intoxication.

A new building for the primary section was completed on March 1, and it went into use the same day. But painting of the outer walls did not begin until April 20 and continued until April 23.

Tests by the Panjin Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision showed that the formaldehyde concentration in the classrooms was double the legal limit of 0.1 milligrams per cubic meter.

The local environment-monitoring center examined two classrooms and discovered that Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) concentration exceeded limits by 4.3 and 7.2 times.

Students had earlier complained that the newly painted classroom walls and new furniture "gave off a sickening odor".

The Panshan county government has ordered the primary section of the Shalingzhen School to suspend classes and close off the classrooms.

An official with the provincial health department said they have sent a medical team to the county to investigate.

Health experts have repeatedly warned homebuyers about toxic emissions in their new homes, particularly cancer-causing benzene that is often found in paint and formaldehyde, which is commonly used in kitchen cabinets, shelving, countertops and ready-to-assemble furniture.

SOURCE: Beijing Time

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