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Friday, August 7, 2015, 18:41

Lead tainted water found in eighth public estate

By Shadow Li/chinadailyasia.com

Lead tainted water found in eighth public estate
A resident of Kai Ching Estate is offered free bottled water after tap water samples at the public housing estate was found to be contaminated with lead. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

HONGKONG - The recent lead-in-water contamination saw no signs of ending in the city as the government announced on Friday that excessive lead was detected in tap water of an eighth public estate while blood lead levels in 12 more people were found to be above reference level.

In a press conference on Friday afternoon, the government confirmed that five tap water samples collected from Yan On Estate in Ma On Shan were tainted by lead, making it the eighth affected public housing estates since excessive lead was found in drinking water supply of Kai Ching Estate in Kai Tak in July.

Yan On Estate was completed in 2011 by Yau Lee Construction Company and is now home to 2,587 families. The government said makeshift water taps will be installed at the estate later today to ensure residents there with clean water supply.

The government also confirmed in Friday’s press conference that 12 residents from four public estates previously identified to have lead contamination gave readings of lead in blood level exceeding reference value set by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

The residents – nine children, one pregnant woman and two breastfeeding mothers – gave readings of between 5.4 and 10.4 micrograms per deciliter, higher than the reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter. A one-year-old infant gave the highest reading. The government has promised to conduct assessment on affected children's development.

The new discovery raised the number of residents with high lead level in their blood to 108.

As the water scare spread, Secretary for Transport and Health Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said the government is planning to replace water pipes at public areas of the affected estates.

Before then, free filters will be installed at these estates at the end of this month at the earliest, Cheung said.

Alternative pipelines conducting water from rooftop water tanks will be in use at Kai Ching next week at the earliest, the government said, while relevant works for other estates will be completed or commenced soon.

The government will next begin phased water tests on more than 100 blocks of public housing estates completed between 2005 and 2010.

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