Beijing to probe running tracks after reports children suffered nosebleeds
Beijing authorities have ordered the inspection of all school running tracks and synthetic sports fields in the Chinese capital, state media said.
It comes after parents at one primary school reported that their children suffered nose bleeds, allergies and dry eyes after using the sports track.
Tests showed toxic substances present on the track, reported the Xinhua state news agency.
There have been reports of several similar cases in recent years.
'My son still has to go to this school'
All construction of new school athletic tracks has also been suspended, according to a statement by the Beijing Municipal Education Commission on Thursday.
However, this has done little to ease parents' concerns who protested against the safety standards last week.
"I can't stop worrying because this is just an order to examine all school tracks," Li, who participated in the protest told the BBC.
Her 8-year-old child attends the Baiyunlu campus of the Beijing No.2 Experimental Elementary School.
Another parent who did not want to be named said: "They haven't decided to remove the current one that's causing the sickness. My son still has to go to this school every day."
Netizens alike have been expressing anger at the health and safety standards present in schools within the city.
On Chinese micro-blog Weibo, #ToxicSchoolTrackResurfaced and #ToxicSchoolTrack were trending, as users complained about poor standards.
One user said: "These people would do anything to gain profit. They are poisoning our next generation."
Another post mentioned that "similar cases had happened recently", but that none of the "responsible parties were punished".
The Education Commission has ordered that the track be covered in protective coating, and promised to track down those responsible, said the Global Times.
However, more attention must also be paid to other schools outside Beijing, said Li demanding that the Ministry of Education "set up a special team to investigate all sports fields and ban problematic contractors from building school tracks around the nation".
'Dermatitis and blood abnormalities'
Similar cases have occurred in provinces like Changzhou, Sichuan and Jiangsu.
Last November, authorities in Shenzhen tore up an athletics track after tests showed it contained more than 140 times the permitted level of methylbenzene, a toxic chemical, according to the Beijing Bulletin.
In what was reported to be an even more severe case, nearly 500 Chinese students allegedly developed dermatitis, blood abnormalities, leukaemia and lymphoma at a school in Changzhou in April, thought to be a result of air, soil and water toxins.
The school is located next to a former industrial site.