Six water samples collected from Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate were found to contain excessive levels of lead, with one sample having 2.84 times the limit for lead content under World Health Organization standards, am730 newspaper reported on Thursday.
Some of the welded pipe fittings for water supply in the public housing estate were also found to contain lead.
Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said blood tests were conducted over the weekend on 609 estate residents.
Of the 314 blood samples tested, 291 were found to be normal, while 23 showed higher than normal lead content of 5 to 9.72 mg of lead per 100 ml of blood.
Of the 23 people who were found to have for excessive lead levels, 17 were children under the age of six and four were breast-feeding mothers. They also included one pregnant woman and a 15-year-old teenager.
Raymond Wong Siu-ming, consultant of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at Prince of Wales Hospital, said the excessive lead content could be passed on by a pregnant mother to the fetus, thus increasing the risk of a miscarriage.
The Hospital Authority will assign a specialist doctor to follow up on the pregnant woman’s case, Wong said.
The authority is reportedly exploring ways to increase the capacity for blood testing, including sending 150 blood samples to overseas laboratories for testing, with results expected to be in next week.
It is also introducing handheld instruments for blood testing in the coming few weeks in order to ease pressure on local laboratories.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said the authority has completed testing water samples from 10 public housing buildings from Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, Mei Tung Estate and Shek Kip Mei Estate, covering some 7,500 households.
While six water samples from Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate were found to be problematic, those from the other two estates had safe readings of level content.
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