Hundreds of residents living near a Chinese chemical plant have been found to have high levels of cadmium in their bodies.
The BBC reports thirty-three of the residents have been admitted to hospitals in Hunan province over the weekend with cadmium poisoning.
Cadmium is used in batteries and can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, nervous system and brain.
Compounds containing the highly toxic metal, are also carcinogenic.
Over the weekend, approximately, 3,000 residents of Zhentou township were tested, after a protest which took place last Thursday.
Protests seeking a government investigation of the plant have been ongoing since 2007. Local authorities have not responded.
The protesters were concerned deadly pollutants were frequently being discharged illegally into water that irrigated their fields.
The plant was finally shut down in April.
Two people who lived nearby died in May and June and autopsies found high levels of cadmium in their bodies. This caused widespread panic among their neighbours.
The plant has apparently, been closed "forever", its director detained and two officials from the municipal environmental protection bureau were suspended.
Villagers will also be compensated for tainted farm produce and livestock which had to be destroyed.