Young students all across China have been falling ill due to an unsuspecting, atypical, and quite surprising reason. The culprit? Toxic running tracks in the schools.
State broadcaster CCTV released a rare undercover report Tuesday which revealed that industrial waste is being used in the manufacturing of running tracks.
The incidents of children affected – who have suffered nosebleeds, headaches, and coughing – have been reported in the provinces of Jiangsu, Guangdong, and at least 15 other Chinese cities.
China’s Ministry of Education announced that inspections will take place nationwide this summer.
Students in Beijing have been hit by this case of toxic tracks as well. When children began experiencing health issues, the local government ordered the inspection of all sports tracks and fields in the province, BBC News reports.
These inspections, in many instances, revealed high levels of potentially carcinogenic chemicals in new synthetic turfs, including the extremely poisonous compound, formaldehyde.
The Chinese undercover television investigation into multiple track manufacturers exposed that as a means to reduce the production cost, the companies used substandard waste, including discarded tyres.
The Ministry of Education has now said it will send environmental protection and quality watchdogs to inspect running tracks and fields across the country, and will remove any of which do not live up to safety standards.
The ministry claims that it is taking the problem “very seriously.” Those responsible for the negligence will “face resolute and serious punishment with no mercy given,” it added.
Construction of any new tracks has been suspended, and an increase in oversight of officials involved in the production and building of running tracks has been implemented, according to the ministry.
At least one school in Beijing has already begun tearing up its track.