BEIJING: Nearly 1000 children in a central Chinese province have tested positive for excessive lead in their blood, state media reported on Tuesday, the latest of several lead poisoning cases involving thousands of children across the country.

After reports of large-scale lead poisoning in neighbouring Shaanxi province, the health bureau in Jiyuan City, Henan province, conducted blood tests on 2743 children under the age of 14, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted the bureau's director, Wei Zongchang, as saying.

Signs of lead poisoning were found in 968 of the children who live near three major lead smelters.

Similar reports of lead poisoning have emerged in Yunnan and Fujian provinces in recent months, and the number of affected children is now past 3000.

City officials have suspended production at 32 of 35 electrolytic lead plants and shut down some production lines at the other three major plants, Duan Xizhong, head of the local Communist Party committee, told Xinhua.

Families with children living within 1000 metres of the smelters have been moved away. AP