Health

Factory Conditions Sicken Chinese Workers

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 1:52 PM EDT

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The fact that lead-laced toys put kids at risk is bad enough, but Chinese factories also cause big problems for another population—workers.

A few of the ways factory employees risk their lives to produce goods bound for the U.S., according to the Salt Lake Tribune's series on the hazards of manufacturing plants in China:

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*Making Char-Broil grills and gas stoves: Experts estimate 4.4 million Chinese workers have silicosis, a fatal lung disease caused by inhaling metal particles.

*Assembling furniture and household accessories: Millions of workers have lost limbs and fingers while using outdated factory equipment.

*Painting furniture: workers who inhale solvents like benzene, toluene and xylene suffer from a range of health problems (one interviewed for the article had myelodisplastic anemia, a precursor to leukemia).

*Making batteries: inhaling cadmium dust, a carcinogen, can cause "severe bone pain, kidney failure and death."

The conditions that cause these health problems (old equipment, loose regulations, lack of protective gear) will most likely take a long time to improve, but the Tribune points out that it might speed things up if American consumers think twice about that new Char-Broil grill.

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