Caixin
ENVIRONMENT

Battery Factory Boom Leaves Toxic Legacy

By Yuan Suwen and Li Rongde
Wheat fields are seen in Fengquan district of Xinxiang, Henan province, in June. Many industrial businesses, including copper smelters, chemical plants, and battery manufacturers, are near this 300-mu (49.4-acre) field, where environmental-protection volunteers collected seven wheat samples. Test results from a lab in the province showed that all wheat samples had excessive levels of cadmium. Photo: Chen Liang/Caixin
Wheat fields are seen in Fengquan district of Xinxiang, Henan province, in June. Many industrial businesses, including copper smelters, chemical plants, and battery manufacturers, are near this 300-mu (49.4-acre) field, where environmental-protection volunteers collected seven wheat samples. Test results from a lab in the province showed that all wheat samples had excessive levels of cadmium. Photo: Chen Liang/Caixin

(Xinxiang, Henan province) — Red dust coated the battery factory floor, and red haze colored everything Li Mingjian cast his eyes on after a long day on the job.

Li, 38, was hired in 2000 by Henan Huanyu Power Source Co. to assemble steel-case storage batteries using cadmium oxide electrodes and sponged cadmium. He did so with his bare hands even though the reddish cadmium oxide was poisonous.

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