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Lead poisoning by Melody Chemical plant in Hengdong, Hunan, China

In 2014, more than 300 children in Hengdong County of Hunan Province were reported to have excessive/ poisoning blood lead levels. After a legal battle, some families finally achieved to receive compensation.


On June 14, 2014, it was disclosed by many media accounts including CCTV that “more than 300 children in Dapu Town, Hengdong County of Hunan Province have excessive blood lead level” which seriouly affected their physical and mental health. [15] The blood lead test revealed that among the 315 children around Hengdong County Melody Chemical plant, 82 were in the excessive blood lead level, 8 were in mild poisoning blood lead level and 2 were in moderate poisoning blood lead level, which can be identified as a major environmental pollution incident. [1] In children, high lead exposure leads to cognitive delays and behavioral problems and can be fatal at extremely high levels. Its effects are permanent and irreversible. Studies have shown that childhood lead exposure is associated with higher adult violent crime rates. [2]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lead poisoning by Melody Chemical plant in Hengdong, Hunan, China
State or province:Hunan
Location of conflict:Dapu Town, Hengdong County
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Chemical industries
Specific commodities:Lead
Chemical products
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The sludge test results of the sewage discharged from Melody Chemical Industry show that the lead content is more than 33400 mg/kg, exceeding the standard (normal standard 500 mg/kg) more than 60 times. The zinc content is 11200 mg / kg, exceeding the standard (normal standard 500 mg / kg) more than 20 times; the cadmium content is 10100 mg / kg, exceeding the standard (normal standard 500 mg / kg) more than 20 times. [3]

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Level of Investment for the conflictive projectunknown
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:300-400
Start of the conflict:14/06/2014
End of the conflict:12/09/2018
Company names or state enterprises:Melody Chemical plant from China
Relevant government actors:-Hengdong County Government
-Hengdong County Environmental Protection Bureau
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Changsha Shuguang Huanbao (ENGO, It followed the entire case and organize meetings and conferences for the affected families not only in Hengdong, but in Chenzhou, Shimen to meet with experts, lawyers, environmentalists and learn how to evaluate the impacts and how to file the lawsuit, etc.
-Pan Qing'an, an environmentalist who documented the case.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Soil contamination
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents
Other Health impactscognitive delays and behavioral problems in childhood; studies have shown that childhood lead exposure is associated with higher adult violent crime rates. [2]
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The damage to health is still there. But as indicated by the lawyer, "this case will be a useful reference for other families affected by pollution, particularly heavy metals pollution, and give them the confidence and courage to use the law to defend their environmental rights".
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2]Ji, A., Wang, F., Luo, W., Yang, R., Chen, J. and Cai, T., 2011. Lead poisoning in China: a nightmare from industrialisation. The Lancet, 377(9776), pp.1474-1476.
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[14]Pan, QA.《血铅Ÿ儿童》(Lead, Children)
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[1]湖南儿童血铅案(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[3]澎湃追踪|央视关注衡阳300血铅儿童,官员称系啃铅笔致病(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[4]湖南衡东县300余名儿童血铅超标事件4名官员被免(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[5]评论:衡阳“儿童血铅超标”案,谁在装睡(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[6]Landmark Case on Lead Poisoning in Children Begins(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[7]湖南儿童血铅案现撤诉潮(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[8]衡阳血铅案判赔2.6万(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[9]湖南儿童血铅中毒赔偿、超标不赔(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[10]Significant milestones reached in Hengdong's fight against pollution(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[11]湖南血铅案7名受害者最多获赔9万(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[12]China Daily: Too small a compensation for lead poisoning (accessed on 2018-10-01)
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[13]Four Years On, Company Agrees to Pay Lead Poisoning Victims(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[16]湖南衡阳“儿童血铅超标”案达成调解 7名受害者最多获赔9万元
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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湖南衡阳300儿童血铅超标 开始审理
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Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice, ICTA-UAB/NWAFU interns
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3760
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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