Chinese authorities are investigating a report that close to 500 students became sick with illnesses including cancer at a school built near former chemical plants in eastern China.

State broadcaster CCTV said Sunday that high concentrations of some toxic chemicals may have caused cases of lymphoma and leukemia among the students.

The Education Ministry said Monday that it has sent a team to investigate, while local officials in Jiangsu province said they will re-examine the issue after initially denying any soil quality issues in interviews with CCTV.

China has been wracked by public health scares. Last week, hundreds of officials across the country were punished over the sale of faulty children's vaccines.