Beijing orders school racetracks probe after poisonings

Beijing, June 9 :  Beijing authorities have ordered the inspection of all running tracks in the capital’s schools, following reports of several cases of students taking ill after running on them.

The order was passed Wednesday by Beijing’s Municipal Commission of Education, which also suspended the construction of new racing tracks of the kind until the circumstances of these cases become clear, the Global Times reported.

Last month, dozens of students at the Baiyunlu campus of Beijing No. 2 Experimental School in Xicheng district suffered nose bleeds, dizziness and coughing fits after activity on the school athletics track, which it was suspected had emitted hazardous gas.

Tests on the track this week, nine months after it was put into use, showed excessive amounts of benzene substances and formaldehyde. The track is now covered with a protective coating.

A similar poisoning also occurred on the playground of a private kindergarten in Beijing’s Fengtai district.

If the city-wide checks detect any problems with school’s tracks and sports fields, these facilities will be made off limits. Those who are responsible for shoddy quality will be punished according to law, the commission said.

China’s Ministry of Education has clear requirements for installation of synthetic racetracks in schools.

However, the requirements have not been properly implemented due to lax supervision, the ministry added.