Authorities in Shanghai have accused US Fortune 500 battery maker Johnson Controls and several other companies of emitting excessive amounts of lead blamed for poisoning dozens of children.
The US giant denies a plant it owns was responsible for the pollution in the Chinese city's Kangqiao area, where 49 children, most of them aged between one and three, were diagnosed with lead poisoning in September.
A report posted on the Shanghai government's official microblog page on Saturday blamed three companies for lead pollution and said at least two were directly responsible for the children's condition.
"An investigation found that Johnson Controls expanded its production scale without approval," the government said, adding the plant's lead emissions were excessive.
Two other companies -- Shanghai Xinmingyuan Automobile Parts Co Ltd and Shanghai Kangshuo Waste Recycling Co Ltd -- were also found to be polluting the environment with lead. All three plants have since been shut down.
"The link between children with excessive lead in their blood in Kangqiao and Johnson Controls' lead emissions is quite obvious and there is a definite link with Xinmingyuan's lead emissions," the government said.
Lead poisoning is considered hazardous, particularly to children, who can experience stunted growth and mental retardation.
Fraser Engerman, spokesman for Johnson Controls, denied the link.