China’s Ministry of Education on Wednesday said it had ordered local education authorities to remove all substandard running tracks at schools after children reportedly fell sick from exposure to artificial turf.
In a statement released to the press, the ministry said it had invited environmental protection and quality inspection authorities to check all newly-built synthetic racetracks at schools nationwide during the upcoming summer school break, and immediately remove substandard ones.
Construction of all synthetic racetracks is to be suspended until the bidding process and the contracts for the construction had been reviewed by authorities to ensure their quality, it said.
The development came after students in Beijing reportedly suffered from nosebleeds, dizzy spells and coughs, after running on the tracks.
Similar cases were reported in Jiangsu, Guangdong and other provinces, adding to concern over poor quality supervision of a product that affects the health of students.
China’s national TV, the CCTV, earlier reported that some of the substandard racetracks were made of industrial wastes such as scrap tires and wires and cables.
Beijing’s education authority has already begun investigations and at least the running tracks of one school have been removed.
In its Wednesday statement, the Ministry of Education said it will soon confer with the Ministry of Environmental Protection to push ahead with checks and removal of substandard racetracks.
It will also coordinate with relevant authorities to up requirements for installation of synthetic racetracks in schools, and strengthen supervision over racetrack manufacturers.
Education authorities and schools must give quality the top priority in the bidding process of racetrack construction projects, it said, adding that those responsible for the substandard and even "toxic" running tracks will be "severely punished with no mercy."