Developmental delay has been confirmed in eight children affected by lead water, Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said. A mother of an affected child said that compensation was useless, as the effect of lead was for a lifetime.

The Department of Health evaluated the development of 106 children who were found with excessive lead in their blood samples. 27 of these were revealed to have signs of developmental delay and eight were confirmed to be less developed than normal.

Ko said children with developmental delay had problems with physical movement and language. The Department and the Hospital Authority would make arrangements for the children to receive appropriate medical care.

File Photo. Photo: Gov HK.
File Photo: Ko Wing-man. Photo: Gov HK.

A mother of a child with the disorder told i-cable that her seven-year-old son was normal in evaluations done by the Department of Health in the past. However, in a recent test conducted after excessive lead was found in his blood stream he was confirmed to have a development delay making him six months slower than normal children.

His mother said he was confused when writing and spelling, getting the word ‘look’ mixed up with ‘kool’ for example. She also said he had difficulty distinguishing between lower and upper case letters. She said this had never happened in the past.

They moved into Kai Ching Estate two years ago, the first public estate where lead contamination was found.

“It’s not about giving us compensation and then leaving us to deal with the effects of drinking the [lead] water,” the mother said. “Compensation is useless, no matter how many figures, because it [the effect of lead] is for a life time.”

On Monday, four Hong Kong ESF schools were also found to have water with lead levels above the World Health Organisation safety standard.

Over the next six months the government will be testing water in about 80 primary and secondary schools built after 2005, as well as 980 kindergartens.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.