7 no 3, 1999
Dr Andrew Gilman, an environmental health expert from Canada, said at a recent conference in Brisbane (23 Nov 1999) that there are extensive similarities between Canada and Australia and a key focus of the Canadian Sustainable Development strategy is cooperation between government, industry and communities. He said that among environmental issues air contaminants, such as smog and haze, were significant concerns to Canada.
"Recent estimates tell us that air contaminants account for up to 6,000 premature deaths annually in Canada.
"Also, it is estimated that overall, environmental contaminants could account for 10-15% of cancer incidence, 20-25% of birth defects and 30% of miscarriages now reported in Canada, costing up to $4 billion annually" said Dr Gilman.
By IRATE (Illawarra
Residents Against Toxic Environments Inc) PO Box 85,
Today, (31/08/99), Port Kembla Residents experienced the hazards of having a heavy industrial plant on its doorstep.
Thick, dark toxic smoke belched from the Port Kembla Copper plant blanketing the town.
Today, just like the "Big Burn Day" at BHP (1997), the community had a taste (literally) of the very real danger that can be caused from something going wrong.
To date, the Environment Protection Authority has not advised of what action it will take against BHP and that incident was nearly 2 years ago. How long will it take for the truth of this current incident to be revealed?
Given the EPA's reluctance to prosecute the big polluting industries, the community has sought advice from a leading Sydney Barrister on what legal action is available to the community to ensure our safety.
Maybe the NSW Labor Government can remind us again of how important it is to have a Copper Smelter so close to a residential area. When the Hon. Mr Debus (Minister of the Environment) was confronted by IRATE members Olive Rodwell & Helen Hamilton, at the opening of the Illawarra Heritage & Environment Centre, about the Port Kembla Copper fire he retorted;
"It was just a fire just like any other fire!"
Ask any fireman about the hazards from the toxic smoke created from burning plastic. Cyanide gases and Dioxins are just two of the many dangerous toxics emitted.
Mr. Debus should educate himself on the hazards of toxic smoke before casually dismissing it.
From 2 short radio documentaries in the Macedonian language by the Environmental Defender's Office (EDO) Sydney
Your Environment, Your Health, Your Rights
The first documentary is about air pollution, outlining the different types of air pollution, how it is controlled and what the public can do about ensuring that pollution control laws are enforced. It is based on a series of interviews with the EPA, the EDO, Healthy Cities in Wollongong and Helen Hamilton of Illawarra Residents Against Toxic Environments (IRATE) in Port Kembla. Helen is a local resident who, for many years, has been active in fighting for a cleaner environment in Port Kembla.
The second documentary is a fictional role play about lead, how it can affect your health and what can be done about it.
Both radio programs were made following extensive discussion with the community in Port Kembla to determine their information needs and how best to convey that information. Due to the lack of information available in Macedonian, the majority of the Macedonian community seem unaware of the existence of the environmental laws which control pollution emissions, and of the role the public can play in ensuring the laws are enforced. While there is some awareness that lead can be dangerous, there is little knowledge of how to minimise its impact through practical steps in homes and backyards. These radio programs provide useful and practical information to encourage the Macedonian community to become involved in protecting their environment and their health.
The release of the programs is particularly timely with the Port Kembla Copper Smelter due to re-open before the end of 1999. The Port Kembla stack is located directly adjacent to the residential area where many of the Macedonian community live. The community has enjoyed several years of improved health and cleaner air since the smelter closed down in 1995. The reopening of the smelter is of concern to local residents because of the potential impact of pollution emissions.
Contact Tessa Bull at EDO (02) 9262 6989 for tapes.
Extracts from US
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) News,
WASHINGTON - In November 1997, the Clinton Administration launched a campaign to protect America's children from the health hazards of lead-based paint with $50 million in aid to localities, a public education program and a new agreement to develop a national enforcement strategy for lead paint disclosure requirements.
Throughout the campaign, HUD, EPA, state and local governments, and industry, environmental and public health groups will work in partnership in the Campaign for a Lead-Safe America - with the slogan, "Take the Lead Against Lead".
Nearly 5 percent of American children ages 1-5 suffer from lead poisoning -- amounting to almost 1 million children. Among low-income children living in older housing, 16 percent suffer from lead poisoning. For African American children living in older housing, the lead poisoning rate soars to 22 percent.
The $50 million in HUD grants will help private owners of low-income housing built before 1978 (when lead-based paint was outlawed as a health hazard) to remove lead-based paint hazards, which can include lead-contaminated paint, dust and soil.
In addition, the funds can be used for blood testing of young children, inspection and testing of homes for lead hazards, temporary relocation of families during lead control work, community education and outreach, and collection and analysis of data on lead hazards.
The new public education program unveiled today will feature: public service advertising in publications throughout the nation; videos featuring Sesame Street characters; educational materials distributed by major hardware retailers (Lowe's, Home Depot, Sears and ACE) in over 6,000 stores; distribution of an illustrated book called Maintaining a Lead-Safe Home to 3,500 libraries; distribution of a new interactive video training course for maintenance workers to teach them to do their work safely; and campaigns involving the National Association of Realtors, the Consumer Federation of America and other groups.
In addition, HUD and EPA are jointly funding a toll-free phone line to give callers information about lead hazards and about disclosure requirements for people selling and renting homes. Information is also available on HUD's website at www.hud.gov/lea/leahome.html and on EPA's site at www.epa.gov/opptinter . The tag line on the public service material is: "Learn before you rent, buy or renovate."
The "right to know" rule requires home sellers and landlords to disclose known lead hazards to prospective homebuyers and tenants, so people can protect their families from exposure to lead.
An estimated 64 million homes and apartment units in the United States built before 1978 are covered by the lead-based paint disclosure rule. About 20 million of these dwellings have lead-based paint in a hazardous condition. About 3.8 million dwellings with lead-based paint are currently occupied by children under age six.
An estimated 9 million new tenants and 3 million homebuyers should receive information under the "right to know" disclosure rule each year. The rule also requires that sellers and landlords of most housing built before 1978 give buyers and tenants a pamphlet about lead-based paint hazards, and requires that prospective homebuyers be given the opportunity to inspect a home for lead-based paint before signing a sales contract.
Twenty-five cities with high concentrations of homes with potential lead hazards will be targeted for special attention. HUD will work with health departments in each city to seek their assistance in providing information about lead poisoning cases, to further the compliance strategy.
One mother of two young sons who have suffered serious health problems from lead poisoning is Margaret Sauser, who is President of National United Parents Against Lead, and founder of United Parents Against Lead of Michigan. Jon and Margaret Sauser's sons -- Jonathan, now age 9, and Cameron, age 6, -- suffered lead poisoning after the couple renovated a 67-year-old home they purchased in 1990 in Kalamazoo, MI. The lead poisoning caused Jonathan to experience behavior problems, learning difficulties, insomnia, stomach problems, and other ailments. Cameron, who was born into the lead-contaminated home, experienced slowed growth, difficulties with speech and motor skills, and other problems.
After learning of the lead contamination of their home three years after they moved in, the Sausers moved and declared bankruptcy when they were told they would be unable to sell the contaminated home.
"If only we had known in 1990 what we know now about lead, our sons would never have been poisoned," Mrs. Sauser said. "No parent and no child should have to go through this. By making more parents aware of the dangers of lead, this new federal initiative will benefit children around the nation. Our precious youth must no longer remain our lead detectors. We must find the lead before it finds our children."
For further info, phone: +1 (202) 708-1420, or see the HUD site on the web at http://www.hud.gov/
For a HUD Update as at September 1999, see below.
By Elizabeth O'Brien and
Carol Bodle, The LEAD Group Inc.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have recently (Sept 99) revised clearance lead dust levels and have issued interim values, pending US EPA standards (expected in 2000). These values are:
Floors: 40 mg/ft2 Roughly
equivalent to: 0.4 mg/m2
Although these values are only interim, US HUD are anticipating incorporating these values into their Guidelines next year, and do not expect US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) values to differ significantly. As these values are now available, it would be advisable to use them in Australia as the Australian Standard on Lead Paint Management AS 4361.2 (1998) used the previous US HUD-based levels of:
Interior Floors: 1 mg/m2
If Standards Australia starts now, they may be able to update the clearance levels at the same time as the US EPA in the year 2000.
China Environment Yearbook '98
The English edition of China's Environment Yearbook 1998 is now available. The 300 page hardcover book (ISSN 1006-3927) costs US$165.50 and consists of 28 sections including:- the establishment and enforcement of environmental policies, statutes and standards, major environmental accidents, statistics, treatment and control of the urban environment, monitoring, publicity and education, newspapers, etc.
For further information contact: Hans Consultants Inc. 19-1-3, East Section, Xiaohongshan, Wuchung, Wuhan, Hubei 430071, China. Fax +1 (530) 579 7132, Email: [email protected]
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