11 Sep Lead levels 80 times WHO safety limit found in water at Hong Kong public housing estate where scandal broke | South China Morning Post
Water with lead levels nearly 80 times World Health Organisation safety standards has been found at the Hong Kong public housing estate where the city’s tainted water scandal began, in the latest round of tests by a concern group.
A water sample from Yan Ching House on Kowloon City’s Kai Ching Estate showed levels of the heavy metal at 793 micrograms per litre in tests by the Lead in Drinking Water Concern Group, conducted in July and last month.
Of the 704 households tested, 328 flats from all six blocks of the estate had excessive lead levels – with 19 exceeding the WHO standard of 10 mcg/l by 10 times or more.
Water was collected from households after running taps for two minutes, and tests were done by a government certified laboratory.
Completed in 2013, the Kai Ching Estate was the first public housing estate to have excessive lead levels found in its water in tests by the Democratic Party in early July.
The government then confirmed that lead content in seven water samples taken from the estate exceeded WHO standards, which led to city-wide tests that exposed the ongoing tainted water crisis.
Of 25 Kai Ching residents who underwent blood tests sponsored by the concern group, three – two elderly people in their 80s and a middle-aged woman – had excessive lead levels in their blood, ranging from 10.5 micrograms per decilitre to 18.4 mcg/dl. The safety standard for lead in blood is 5mcg/dl.
According to Yuki Leung Yuen-ting, convenor of the concern group, the water tests were funded by the Hong Kong Kowloon City Industry and Commerce Association, while the blood tests were funded by pro-Beijing lawmaker Ann Chiang Lai-wan.
“Ever since the lead-in-water incident broke out at the Kai Ching Estate in early July, residents have been harmed both physically and psychologically,” said Leung, who works at Kai Ching.
“We hope residents could be compensated, such as being exempted from rent and water fees.”