The Chinese government is investigating BYD after reports of harmful emissions. Photo: Greg Baker / AFP
China’s largest electric vehicle maker is being investigated by authorities after its factory was accused of polluting hundreds of children nearby with bleeding noses.
More than 700 children living close to the automaker, BYD’s production plant in the central Chinese city of Changsha, have complained of recurrent nosebleeds since April, according to the results of an online survey seen by VICE World News. The survey, conducted anonymously by residents of Yuhua District, found that more than 100 children living around the factory experienced multiple nose bleeds a day, and 90 percent of them were under the age of 12.
Several hundred residents rallied outside the company on Friday to protest the harmful pollutants, Chinese outlets reported. In a video shared on Chinese social media, demonstrators can be seen in front of a gate of the company’s compound, shouting slogans, “Toxins are poisoning people day and night.” VICE World News could not independently verify when the footage was taken.
The Changsha government said on Sunday that it had set up a task force with independent assessment agencies and experts to investigate the factory. A state-affiliated outlet said on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter, that some production lines at the factory have been halted. The company’s shares have fallen more than 5 percent since Friday in China and Hong Kong.
Residents complained of a pungent smell that pervaded the neighborhood since April. In addition to reporting nosebleeds and skin rashes in children, some adults said they also developed symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and a persistent cough.
“It’s especially troubling at night—the air smells like lit stars,” said a woman named Yang. sixth vowel In an article that has since been removed. According to the article, their 4-year-old daughter had three nosebleeds last week and complained of a headache. “I don’t know what the consequences will be in the long run,” Yang said.
“Many residents preferred to go out for rest at first,” another mother told the outlet, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of the repercussions of speaking to the media. “But now we don’t even go out for a walk.”
sixth vowel It did not explain why it removed the article. The carmaker has reportedly issued a letter to Toutiao, a social media platform, requesting it to remove several posts about the allegations, citing a lack of factual basis.
In a statement released Saturday, BYD said online rumors suggest its emissions exceeded limits and that the nose bleed was caused by a “malicious erection.” It had reported the matter to the police and would take legal action. The company did not immediately respond to requests from Vice World News for comment.
BYD, which stands for Build Your Dreams, was hailed as the first Chinese automaker to stop making internal combustion engine-only cars — a decision it announced last month. The move was in response to Beijing’s goal of peaking carbon emissions by 2030. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is one of the company’s biggest investors, with a 7.9 percent stake.
Bao Hang, project leader for Greenpeace Asia in Beijing, told Vice World News: “The allegations against the company remind us that reducing carbon emissions does not mean automakers can neglect the environmental impact of their manufacturing process. ” “This lesson should apply to all automakers, not just BYD.”
According to documents shared by the environmental group, the factory in Changsha previously violated regulations on wastewater discharge in 2017. In September, a random inspection carried out by the local Ministry of Ecology and Environment found that the plant did not have automatic monitoring and management of pollution sources. standards and its volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions exceed regulatory standards. As a result it was placed on the government watch list.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation and nausea as well as allergic skin reactions. A 2019 study in Beijing found some association between air pollutants and the incidence of nose bleeds in children.